AUSTIN (KXAN) — Many Texas nurses believe now is the time to prepare for a sudden surge in COVID-19 patients.

New York just had about 40,000 retired nurses and doctors sign up to return to the front lines to help fight the virus.

“I think they probably needed them a long time ago,” said Serena Bumpus, Director of Practice at Texas Nurses Association.

She said the nursing shortage issue isn’t new, but with the pandemic, they really have to think about how hospitals will handle a sudden surge in patients.

“Most of our hospitals have canceled their elective surgeries, and so how are we re-deploying those nurses that work in those surgical settings to work in in-patient setting where we know the care will be needed the most,” Bumpus said.

To make it easier for retired nurses or those with expired licenses to come back to work, Texas is now waiving certain continuing education and exam requirements.

For nurses who’ve been working with temporary permits, they can continue to work and don’t have to worry about taking the board exam right now.

“I think it is very promising that we’ll see several of these nurses re-enter the workforce to help out in some way,” Bumpus told KXAN.

For a nursing student, just weeks from graduating, the student will now be able to do more than half of his or her clinical online.

“I think for the most part, they’re ready to get out there. They’re ready to graduate,” said Marla Erbin-Roesemann, Director of St. David’s School of Nursing at Texas State University.

For longer-term solutions to nurse shortage issues, an Austin startup called Diligent Robotics announced they raised a $10 million series A investment.

Moxi by Diligent Robotics

Its nursing assistant robot picks up supplies and delivers them, so nurses can be more efficient in patient care. Dell Children’s Medical Center tested out the nursing assistant robot last year. The startup said a Dallas hospital is using the robot right now.