D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a limited public health emergency until Jan. 26 to help hospitals handle a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The D.C. Hospital Association has been asking for the order. The governors of Maryland and Virginia have made similar declarations.
An influx of COVID patients, a crush of people going to the emergency room for mild symptoms and staffing shortages have put extra stress on local hospitals.
The order gives DC Health authority to quickly change procedures, deadlines and standards in response to COVID-19 as warranted. DC Health must issue an administrative order to lay out details such as whether crisis standards of care or liability protections are in place.
Hospitals also asked D.C. to implement crisis standards of care, allowing hospitals to lower the ratio of staff to patients, continue use of out-of-state medical licenses and authorizing liability protections.
According to a letter from the D.C. Hospital Association, the strain on the District’s health care system is greater now than at any time since the pandemic began.