California's rise this week to the nation's top spot in confirmed coronavirus cases — overtaking New York — reportedly has the Golden State's health care personnel concerned about potential shortages in medical equipment, beds and hospital staffing.
“We need to be prepared to treat as many as 25,000 COVID-positive patients,” Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, told FOX 40 of Sacramento. “That’s about four times the level where we are today.”
California reported a record 12,807 new cases of the virus Wednesday and more than 7,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized statewide — with more than 2,000 needing intensive care, The Los Angeles Times reported.
But the concern over increasing hospitalizations is about more than just finding a bed for a patient, Coyle told LAist.com.
“Capacity is made up of not just space and beds. In fact, those things are among the easiest to resolve,” she said. “But it is all about staff and personal protective equipment and testing. And unfortunately, all three of those things are in short supply."
Last week, state officials requested help from more than 150 Air Force medical workers to relieve overwhelmed staff in some hospitals across the state.
About 45,000 of the approximately 50,000 available hospital beds in the state were already taken, Coyle said, according to LAist.com.
The state is looking again at “non-traditional” locations to add temporary medical centers and the hospital association has asked the state to request more federal medical staffing assistance, she said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday he was extending the state’s contract with a Chinese firm to secure 120 million N95 masks and 300 million surgical masks to distribute to hospitals and other facilities across the state but admitted some hospital workers continued to complain of shortages.
“We were able to bend the curve many months ago in the state of California,” Newsom told reporters at a news conference. “That bought us time to purchase and procure the kind of equipment you see behind me and put together our plans.”
He said the state is prepared for a possible strain on hospitals, including “the need to develop alternative care sites outside of our hospital system to help isolate and quarantine individuals,” The L.A. Times reported.
“Alternative" sites may mean “beds in office buildings and conference rooms and all the rest within the hospital footprint," Coyle told FOX 40. "That is not pretty.”