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Key COVID-19 Flexibilities Extended Indefinitely

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If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that we must be prepared for the unexpected. When hospitals were asked — time and again — to respond to this crisis, to rapidly expand their physical and workforce capacity, they needed critical flexibilities on a number of state regulations. 

On Friday, the governor’s office, after sustained conversations with your CHA team, announced that he signed an executive order under the COVID-19 state of emergency extending key hospital-related flexibilities, which had been set to expire June 30.  

Specifically, the order extends the authority for two key departments indefinitely until rescinded by a future executive order from the governor

  • California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to issue a waiver that allows hospitals to reconfigure physical space as needed. This is often referred to as the CDPH space waiver and is contained in All Facilities Letter (AFL) 20-26.12. This waiver can now be extended by CDPH.  
  • Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) to allow licensed out-of-state health care personnel to practice in California. For details, see EMSA’s COVID-19 website under “Authorization of Out-Of-State Medical Personnel.”  

The public health department still must formally extend its waiver by revising its AFLs, which CHA is asking the department to do as soon as possible. EMSA has updated its materials on its website, which now authorize out-of-state health care personnel for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Friday’s action provides a reprieve from a fast-approaching deadline as COVID-19 cases continue to be elevated and signals the state’s recognition that the COVID-19 emergency cannot be constrained by arbitrary dates. 

During the pandemic, these flexibilities have proved invaluable in California’s ability to tend to people needing hospital care. While the current rise in COVID-19 cases has not led to a precipitous climb in hospitalizations, preserving these waivers means that hospitals will be even more prepared should they again be called upon to rise to another challenge.