California Health Corps site scored 25,000 sign-ups in its first day

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom updates the state’s response to the coronavirus at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Monday, March 23, 2020.

Rich Pedroncelli | AP

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said 25,000 people signed up for the state’s new Health Corps site, in one day. The state is now vetting the licenses, specialties and looking to place eligible healthcare workers in roles at facilities where they are most needed throughout California.

Health Corps is seeking help from licensed doctors, nurses, respiratory specialists, dentists, paramedics and EMTs, pharmacists and others

Newsom also thanked Facebook for a $25 million donation that will help pay for housing for healthcare professionals near hospitals or clinics, and for childcare for their families.

According to models used by the state, the governor said he expects the COVID-19 outbreak in California to peak some time in May 2020.

He also praised other local tech firms, as well, including the social network for local communities, Nextdoor, fuel cell makers Bloom Energy, and Virgin Orbit.

San Francisco-based Nextdoor is helping the state to encourage residents to check up on each other, especially on their elderly neighbors. Bloom Energy in San Jose has been refurbishing ventilators for the state’s effort to procure and distribute these to hospitals.

Meanwhile, Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit in Long Beach, has completely shifted its focus from making rockets and launch equipment, for the time being, to prototyping and manufacturing bridge ventilators, which are low-end ventilators that can be used to treat many COVID-19 patients.

The governor said he is collaborating with the private sector and other governors to procure all the personal protective equipment and medical devices needed to treat the surging numbers of California-based COVID-19 patients.

The state is trying to procure more than 100 million hospital-grade N95 masks, for example, and needs gowns, coveralls, gloves, goggles and face shields as well. 

Speaking of the state’s early orders to enforce social distancing, which have appeared to help California contain the novel coronavirus better than other states have been able to, Newsom said he had no regrets. “The only regret we will have is if people cut the parachute before they land,” he added.

California, as of March 31, has 6,932 positive cases of COVID-19 and 1,617 of those who have tested positive are in the state’s hospitals with 657 of them now ICU patients, according to Newsom. A total of 150 people have died from COVID-19 in the state so far, he said. Tens of thousands of test results are still pending.

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