Gov. Abbott waives several regulations in hopes of expanding nursing workforce

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Saturday, March 21, 2020
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Gov. Abbott has declared a state of emergency and said the first drive-thru testing site is already open in San Antonio, with plans to create more.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- As the numbers of coronavirus cases rapidly grow in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has waived several regulations to help meet the state's need for nurses.

The governor's actions will expand Texas' active nurse workforce by doing the following:

  • Allowing temporary permit extensions to practice for graduate nurses and graduate vocational nurses who have yet to take the licensing exam.
  • Allowing students in their final year of nursing school to meet their clinical objectives by exceeding the 50% limit on simulated experiences.
  • Allowing nurses with inactive licenses or retired nurses to reactivate their licenses.

RELATED: Texas declares health disaster, leaving take-out only restaurants open

"In the coming weeks and months, Texas will continue to see a growing need for medical professionals to help us respond to these unique and challenging times," said Governor Abbott. "With these actions, Texas is taking an important step to meet that need. Nurses are essential to our ability to test for this virus, provide care for COVID-19 patients, and to continue providing other essential health care services. Suspending these regulations will allow us to bring additional skilled nurses into the workforce to assist with our efforts and enhance our COVID-19 response."

The number of coronavirus cases in Texas now tops 300. The Texas Department of State Health Services said Saturday 304 people have tested positive for the virus, up from about 200 on Friday.

The number of deaths in the state remained at five.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But some people, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, can suffer more severe illness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.