California Prepares To Boost Hospital Surge Capacity

 In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, Sailors assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) treat the first patient from Los Angeles medical facilities March 29.
Photo credit U.S. Navy via Getty Images
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

The COVID-19 pandemic is all about numbers, many of them staggering. For Governor Gavin Newsom, there’s one number in particular that he is watching closely.

“Seven hundred seventy four,” declared Newsom during his Wednesday news conference, “that’s the number of individuals in the state of California that are in ICU beds.”

He said the daily count of patients in intensive care units, which has been increasing during the coronavirus outbreak, is extremely important.

“That’s the number that I wake up to that I’m most focused as the governor of California,” said Newsom, “the number of people in ICU and the number of people hospitalized in the state of California — those numbers represent our most urgent need in terms of keeping people alive.”

The numbers are a metric that helps officials determine how and where the medical supplies may be needed.

Newsom and state health officials are comparing the real-time patient data with what’s been predicted to try to get a grasp on when the peak might be coming.

“Hospitalizations to ICUs are running at almost 42%,” said Newsom, “if we extrapolate that out, we’ll exceed that Phase 1 surge capacity of 50,000 somewhere in the middle part of May.”

That doesn’t mean the state has reached its peak, it means California has reached Phase 2 surge capacity, which would call for 30,000 more ventilators.

“The good news is that we have time, and that’s why it’s incumbent on all of us to utilize this time thoughtfully and judiciously,” said Newsom, “continue to practice safe physical distancing.”