As health officials warn the public to brace for what could be the worst of the novel coronavirus this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that California will lend 500 ventilators to help hot spots currently facing shortages as the state’s peak is not expected until May.
“We still have a long road ahead of us in the Golden State — and we’re aggressively preparing for a surge — but we can’t turn our back on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now,” Newsom said in a prepared statement. “We’re meeting this moment with compassion.”
The state-owned ventilators will go to the Strategic National Stockpile inventory to serve states such as New York, the worst-hit state in the nation with a death toll of more than 4,000 and cases reaching 131,000.
Newsom said California has the capacity to provide for others, due to an increasing number of ventilators at hospitals across the state that jumped from 7,587 to 11,036.
California may not see a surge in the number of people infected with COVID-19 until mid-May, based on current data, Newsom said.
While a peak is not expected until next month, Los Angeles County and federal health officials reiterated that this week could be the worst the U.S. has seen yet in dealing with the virus.
Residents are highly advised to avoid leaving their homes, including for essential errands, such as grocery shopping, if possible.
“If you can arrange for medications and groceries to be delivered, this would be the week to put that in place,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the county’s Department of Public Health.
Newsom also announced Monday the state’s efforts to add 50,000 hospital beds to an existing amount of 75,000, starting with securing 4,613 beds at alternate care sites and shuttered hospitals to prepare for the anticipated surge.
More specifically, the governor said at least 60% of the 50,000 beds would come from within existing hospitals, and the state would secure the remaining 20,000.
California’s Health Corps, a program that helps retired or out-of-work health care workers back into the field due to a growing number of COVID-19 patients, received nearly 82,000 sign-ups. Alternate care sites would be staffed using the Health Corps, said Newsom.