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Gov. Newsom Announces California Health Care Worker Surge Initiative, Gives Coronavirus Update

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced what his office described as "a major initiative to surge California‘s health care workforce" as the state deals with the novel coronavirus.


The state is seeking additional health care staff to assist with the projected surge in coronavirus patients, with Newsom asking health professionals to register at The effort includes working with health professionals who may have retired in the last five years or are currently working to get licensed or relicensed. The shift in licensing requirements is currently set to last through June 30.

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Over the next few weeks, Newsom expects that the state will be able to provide enough resources — such as hospital beds and medical personnel — in the aggregate to handle coronavirus patients, but that this depends on factors like success in finding additional health care workers.

There are about 37,000 potential health workers available who could be tapped, according to Newsom. Workers being asked to sign up, according to the state website, include:

  • Physicians (MD, DO), including medical students
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurses (RN, LVN, CNA), including nursing students
  • Behavioral health professionals (psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, LCSW, LMFT, LPCC)
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Paramedics
  • Medical assistants
  • Emergency medical technicians

Newsom asked people who know anyone who might be willing to give their time — and be compensated for doing so — to encourage those people to register to join the effort. He also emphasized that this would only be temporary and that health workers shouldn't expect this to be the new status quo.
The health care worker surge program is being paid for through a number of sources, including both state and federal funding from sources like FEMA.

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


Over the last four days, the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations in California has doubled, Newsom said. He said that there are 1,432 hospitalizations, with 597 ICU beds in use right now. Newsom said that county-level information on hospitalizations would also be released.

At least 50,000 additional hospital beds will be needed in the second half of May, according to projections, California Department of Public Health Director Mark Ghaly said. The largest impediment to increased coronavirus testing at this time is a lack of swabs, Newsom said.

Among other potential surge sites for additional hospital beds, Newsom cited the L.A. Coliseum as one location the state is looking at. There were 150 ventilators that have been refurbished and sent back to L.A. County, Newsom said.

Emphasizing the importance of continued social distancing, Newsom compared the current moment to skydiving, saying that we are not yet close to the ground — so we shouldn't cut the parachute.

Newsom expressed his thanks to Facebook for donating $25 million in stipends to help with child care.

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The governor's office has announced there will be daily COVID-19 press briefings at 12 p.m. starting this week.

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