In an effort to reinforce the ranks of medical professionals available to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Tom Wolf on Saturday eased restrictions and licensing protocol for a slew of health care professionals.
In a live streamed press conference, Wolf announced he had streamlined the process allowing retired doctors, nurses, medical students, pharmacists, and other healthcare workers to return to work and help ease the burden that the pandemic has placed on the state’s health care system.
Wolf is also allowing out-of-state practitioners to practice in Pennsylvania, including pharmacists, in certain circumstances. The governor also expanded telemedicine and launched a portal where health care workers can purchase supplies.
“All of these steps are about saving lives and giving our health care system time to prepare for the expected increase in patients,” Wolf said. “I commend all of the health care workers across our state for your dedication to serving and caring for others at this unprecedented time.”
The health department on Saturday revealed that Pennsylvania now has counted 2,751 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and a total of 34 deaths. Among those deaths, were two in central Pennsylvania: one in Cumberland County and one in Lancaster County.
Wolf also added three more counties to those subject to a “stay-at-home” order, bringing the total to 22. He previously ordered at “non-life-sustaining” businesses to close as well.
The Department of State has temporarily eased licensing waivers for health care professionals during the COVID-19 disaster declaration. The waivers reduce administrative barriers.
Wolf said easing restrictions on retired medical professionals to the health care community would return doctors and nurses with decades of experience back to the covid-19 frontline.
“These retirees don’t need to help COVID-19 patients to be a huge help,” he said. “By taking patients who have everyday concerns, they are helping to reduce the overall burden on our medical system and freeing up others to assist with the pandemic.”
Wolf said that Pennsylvania had in recent weeks received 119 applications requesting reactivation of medical licenses.
Newly eased restrictions will also be applied for certified nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
Wolf is also lifting restrictions on out-of-state medical professionals.
“We need all the hands we can get,” he said.
Wolf reiterated his orders to state residents to stay home in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
He underscored the threat of contagion noting a little math: Wolf said that if one individual infects three others, and those three infect three more, the link five times down the chain quickly climbs to 243 infected people.
“Be the missing link,” Wolf said. “Remove yourself from this chain and save lives.”
The administration has said that self-isolation and social distancing are necessary to reduce the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading in Pennsylvania, to keep the state’s hospitals from being overwhelmed with more patients than they are capable of treating at one time.
So far, the number of cases has been increasing at an exponential rate, which means they’ve been doubling every two to three days.
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