Executive order expands California’s workforce to respond to COVID-19 surge

Under a new executive order, dentists are considered essential health care providers and are encouraged to sign up to join the California Health Corps, a newly launched statewide effort to prepare the health care delivery system to respond to a potential surge in COVID-19 patients by opening additional health care sites. Registered dental hygienists and dental assistants can also register to join the effort. Recruits will be financially compensated and provided malpractice insurance coverage for the care they provide.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order, signed March 30, allows for another 50,000 hospital beds at minimum for the state’s health care facilities. It also temporarily maximizes the number of available and qualified health care workers who can staff the additional beds or relieve frontline personnel by caring for individuals who need treatment for conditions other than COVID-19. Respiratory therapists, medical assistants, public health professionals, medical retirees and other health care professionals are needed in addition to dental professionals.

“If you have a background in health care, we need your help,” Gov. Newsom said in the news release. In times of catastrophic emergencies, flexibility on scope of practice and licensure is allowed under California law. Those changes in state law were made after 9/11.

Register to join California’s emergency staffing

Dentists and other interested health care professionals can visit the California Health Corps website for complete eligibility details and to register to join California’s emergency staffing response to the coronavirus outbreak. After California Health Corps verifies a candidate’s registration and California license for clinical practice (if it applies), Health Corps will ask the candidate to submit an application to complete the process and determine skills, experience, location preferences and interests prior to hiring and deployment.

Dentists’ skills can be used in the state’s fight against COVID-19 in many ways, including:

  • Taking vital signs.
  • Testing for COVID-19.
  • Triaging patients.
  • Administering oxygen.
  • Administering injectables, including vaccinations.
  • Writing prescriptions.
  • Intubating and providing deep sedation or general anesthesia services – applies to oral surgeons and dentist anesthesiologists only.

Assigned staffing locations will vary according to the highest need in the state, but California Health Corps said it will try to match applicants’ geographical preferences.

The executive order comes as hospitals and medical centers in New York are already experiencing a patient surge along with the problems associated with dwindling capacity and staffing.

In California, newly confirmed cases of the COVID-19 illness, which is caused by the novel coronavirus that originated last December and spread across the globe quickly, are still rising in California with 6,932 positive cases reported March 30, up more than 18% from the previous day.

“California must continue to prepare our health care delivery system and make sure it has every resource to respond to a potential surge in COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services. “California’s most valuable resource is its people and I join the Governor in calling on all medical professionals to join the fight against COVID-19.”

Register to join California’s expanded workforce. For more COVID-19 news and resources, including future updates about the Health Care Corps initiative, visit

Theme picker