The Trump administration announced Wednesday that doctors will be allowed to practice across state lines, part of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which continues to sicken more people across the country.
Vice President Mike Pence made the announcement during the Coronavirus Task Force daily press briefing, saying the Department of Health and Human Services will allow all physicians and other medical personnel to practice in states other than the ones they are licensed to practice in.
“HHS is issuing a regulation today that will allow all doctors and medical professionals to practice across state lines, to meet the needs of hospitals that may arise in adjoining areas,” Pence said.
Physicians and nurses otherwise need a state license to practice in that state. Hospitals have already begun expanding staff as fears mount that the caseload of coronavirus patients could soon overwhelm the U.S. medical system.
Pence, whom President Trump tapped to lead the administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus, also urged “nonessential” elective medical procedures, including dental procedures, to save hospital capacity and medical supplies for patients suffering from the deadly virus.
“We believe that these recommendations will help surgeons, patients and hospitals prioritize what is essential, while leaving the ultimate decision in the hands of state and local health officials and those clinicians who have direct responsibility to their patients,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said.
The coronavirus, a respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan, China, has infected more than 5,800 people in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and more than 100 people have died. Globally, the virus has infected more than 203,700 people in at least 145 countries and killed more than 8,200.