Newsom calls on health care workers to assist in coronavirus surge

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Gov. Gavin Newsom, during a news conference Monday, announced an initiative to assist with the surge in COVID-19 cases California’s health care workforce is facing by recruiting individuals who can help.

“In the last four days, we have seen a doubling in the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19,” Newsom said. “We’ve also seen a tripling of the number of ICU patients in our system in the last four days.”

Though Newsom said these are numbers that have long been projected, they will need several fundamental things to assist with the surge, which include finding new places to put people, and having adequate supplies, from personal protection equipment, or PPE, to ventilators, as well as people.

That being said, Newsom announced California Health Corps, a platform that will assist in matching health care workers who may have retired in the past five years, are in the process of getting licensed, as well as those who are in nursing or medical schools who are nearing completion to assist in the surge.

“We have more licensed health care professionals in the state of California than any state in the nation, some 766,000 professionals … but we estimate we have the capacity to increase our ranks by an additional 37,000-plus professionals,” Newsom added. “We are very, very hopeful (that) with this effort, we will see a surge of individuals to be paid and compensated to participate in the workforce and distributed throughout our care delivery system all around the state of California.”

Newsom signed an executive order that is expected to provide flexibility through June 30 and will temporarily expand the health care workforce and allow health care facilities to staff at least an additional 50,000 hospital beds the state needs to treat COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Shannon Udovic-Constant of the California Medical Association joined Newsom to encourage her fellow medical professionals to sign up to help.

“Many of us were drawn to careers in medicine because of the opportunity to truly help others,” she said. “This is the work that we’ve been called to do. Now is our time … We’re calling on the spirit of all health care workers across California to step up and help to serve the patients of our state.”

All medical professionals, including medical doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, behavioral health scientists, pharmacists, EMTs, medical, administrative assistants and certified nursing assistants, among others, are encouraged to step up to help California respond to the outbreak.

In addition, Newsom addressed the continuous challenge of finding a supply of PPE. Though California had distributed 32.6 million N95 masks to health care workers as of Monday, 10s of millions more have already been requested of the state.

“Every couple of days, more of that PPE comes in, not just N95 masks, but coveralls, shields, gowns, gloves, (ventilators) and the like, and so as soon as we get them in, we get them out,” Newsom added.

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