On March 30th, in plenty of time to avoid being taken for an April Fool’s joke, California Governor Gavin Newsome issued executive order N-39-20 https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.30.20-EO-N-39-20-text.pdf giving the Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) the authority to waive professional licensing requirements for the healing arts boards under DCA during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Any medical professional (doctors, dentists, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, behavioral health scientists, pharmacists, EMTs) who have had an active California license within the previous 5 years but have let it lapse can renew their license without charge. The license will be good for only 6 months (usual term of renewal is 2 years) and is contingent on registration with the new California Health Corps https://covid19.ca.gov/healthcorps/. Promise to new Corps members is a salary (although the amount is never mentioned) and malpractice insurance. Applicants can state regional preferences for posting, and will have their skill sets screened so as to match needs as best possible. The main mission of this new army will be to staff an additional 50,000 hospital beds, now closed, but expected to be needed as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads. The state has reported over 6,000 cases already, figuring that to be a gross underestimation due to spotty testing. As of last Monday, 1432 cases were in hospital, over 600 of those in intensive care https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/us/california-health-corps-newsom.html. Today’s Johns Hopkins map https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html shows 5,304 confirmed cases in Los Angeles alone.
The pool is deep. Over 37,000 medical professionals had a California license sometime in the past 5 years but let it lapse. I’m one of them. I got a California Medical License in late 2016 in anticipation of my sabbatical at University of California at San Diego, which ran from January through the end of March. When the time to renew came last year, I balked at paying the high fee ($820, more than twice what it costs in Michigan, which is good for twice as long). When the post at UCSD did not materialize, and my medical career seemed destined to remain firmly planted in Michigan, one license seemed sufficient. Even if I could secure a Corps posting in La Jolla, I think I’ll hold off on my return to the Golden State till the environment becomes less hazardous. If I eventually feel moved to stand on the front lines in this battle, there will be opportunities within walking distance