California COVID-19 hospitalizations double in four days: governor

FILE PHOTO: A sailor treats a patient aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy, which was deployed to serve as a referral hospital for non-coronavirus disease (COVID-19 patients) currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 29, 2020. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erwin Jacob Miciano/Handout via REUTERS.

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state had nearly doubled over the past four days and the number of ICU patients tripled during that time.

By Monday, 1,421 California patients had been hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, up from 746 four days ago, Newsom said. The number of patients requiring intensive care beds rose to 597 from 200, he said. Altogether, 5,763 people have tested positive for the disease in the state, he said.

The rapid increase in the need for hospital and ICU care led Newsom to 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 couple of years, we need you.”

The state is hoping its initiative, dubbed California Health Corps, 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.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Sandra Maler and Dan Grebler)

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