Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the state was expanding the number of available hospital beds and medical resources in anticipation of the impending surge of critical COVID-19 patients which Newsom projected would occur in May.
California has already secured up to 4,613 additional hospital beds at alternate care sites and shuttered hospitals to care for an anticipated surge in #COVID19 patients.
Speaking to reporters remotely from Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, the former home of the NBA Sacramento Kings, one of more than a dozen facilities around the state which are being converted into emergency medical surge facilities, Newsom said the state was in the process of utilizing venues across California to assist in the expected sharp increase of patients needing in-patient care with the added availability in hospital beds.
The governor noted that the number of people hospitalized due to coronavirus had increased 4.9% overnight to 2,509 and the number of patients in ICU beds has increased by 4.3% to 1,085.
He also announced that state had returned 500 ventilators to the Strategic National Stockpile to deploy in states that need them more.
“We feel confident in our capacity to meet our needs as we support the needs of others,” Newsom said, adding that the ventilators are being “lent” and could be recalled if necessary down the road.
Newsom’s other oft-stated goal is focusing on efforts in increased testing of the state’s residents as well as eliminating the testing backlog. According to the California Department of Public Health, the number of pending tests fell from 59,900 to 15,000. A CDPH spokesperson told the Los Angeles Blade Monday afternoon that health department officials across the state have received results from more than 116,000 tests, meaning fewer than one in five are coming back positive.
As of Monday afternoon, the state has recorded 16,323 cases and 385 deaths.
In Los Angeles, officials are focused on protecting elderly seniors and those individuals who are at higher risk of contracting the virus. The Director of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, Dr. Barbara Ferrer reported 420 new cases and 15 deaths Monday, bringing the countywide total to 6,360 cases and 147 deaths.
“If you’re elderly, or you have an underlying health condition, you stay home, except to go to medical appointments,” Ferrer said. “When you’re out and about, even for essential services, you’re putting yourself at risk for becoming infected with COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill.”
The LACPHD Director also pleaded with LA County stores and residents to lookout for the elderly, asking that area stores provide seniors with free delivery services for groceries and medications.
“We want to encourage grocery stores and pharmacies to offer free delivery services wherever possible to those at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19,” she said. “And if you have a friend or you are a friend, neighbor or family member of somebody who is elderly, or somebody that has underlying health conditions: please, please, help them get their food, their medications, and the essentials that they need, so they can safely stay home,” she added.
During his daily briefings including Monday’s, President Trump cautioned that the next two weeks with expected surges in cases and deaths across the United States were going to be rough.
Echoing the president’s warnings, Ferrer noted that “This would be the week to skip shopping altogether,” she said.
Ferrer also addressed the testing issues. According to her, there have been 32,000 coronavirus tests administered in the County, with 14% of those coming up positive. However, she called the rate “slightly inflated” as some of the commercial labs have yet to report in with their negative results.
There are now12 cases among the county’s homeless population, she confirmed.
She also acknowledged that some areas of the county are struggling to obtain tests more than others.
“Testing scarcity still exists in some places more than it does in others…As the week goes by you will see increased capacity that reflects that desire to make sure getting tested is not a barrier because of where you live or where you work,” she said.
On the subject of wearing facial masks as added protection recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week and which was endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti who recommended that all city residents wear masks whenever they’re in public and interacting with others; “We saw a lot of people over this weekend using cloth face coverings while you were out and about,” Ferrer said. “And thank you for taking this additional step to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
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