More than 25,000 licensed health care workers have applied for a “Health Corps” initiative launched by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, as the state battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newsom called for the help of medical professionals, saying the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19—the disease caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus—in California had nearly doubled over the past four days and the number of ICU patients tripled during that time.
🎥 The Daily California Response is here!
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) March 31, 2020
The California Health Corps effort comes as the nation’s most populous state anticipates hospitals becoming overwhelmed with patients and while it is preparing stadiums and convention centers to handle a crush of cases.
“Medical professionals are the heroes of this moment. We need ALL healthcare workers out in the field. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation as we prepare for what’s ahead. Doctors, nursing students, EMTs & more—CA needs YOU. Sign up. Spread the word,” Newsom said in his appeal.
Newsom set up a website to connect retired doctors and nurses, as well as medical and nursing students, to hospitals and clinics that need them. The state will help retirees activate their licenses and students obtain licensing.
“If you’re a nursing school student, a medical school student, we need you,” Newsom said. “If you’ve just retired in the last few years, we need you.”
By Monday, 1,421 California patients had been hospitalized with the CCP virus, up from 746 four days prior, Newsom said. The number of patients requiring intensive care beds rose to 597 from 200, he said. Altogether, by Monday 5,763 people had tested positive for the disease in the state, he said. The state total as of press time Wednesday stood at 6,932 cases and 150 deaths.
Thousands of applicants responded to Newsom’s appeal, leaving him “overwhelmed.”
“A remarkable number of individuals stepped up and are willing to step in to meet COVID-19 head-on,” Newsom said during a news conference. “People all across the state of California … phlebotomists, radiologists, EMTs, doctors, nurses. And I want to begin my comments by thanking all 25,000,”
“I’ve never been more damn inspired in my life,” Newsom said. “To see that number—just 25,000 yesterday alone? Of professionals … that are willing to come out of retirement? To put their lives back on the line?”
The state is hoping its initiative will bring on board enough staff to handle an additional 50,000 hospital beds, Newsom said. An executive order signed Monday also temporarily allows physician assistants and nurse practitioners to perform some duties normally performed by physicians and registered nurses, and waives other state rules during the crisis.
Medical professionals who sign up under the program will be paid with state and federal funds and provided malpractice insurance.
“This is not a volunteer effort,” Newsom said. “It is fully reimbursed beyond the stipends that will be provided by the private sector.”
The state’s list of eligibility requirements and details about how to apply for the initiative can be viewed on the program’s website.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.