Newsom outlines surge of pop-up medical centers, hospital beds

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Speaking from an arena in the middle of transitioning from a sports venue to a makeshift hospital, Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined the state’s urgent need for more health care facilities and tens of thousands of more hospital beds on Monday.

The governor said the state needs to acquire 50,000 more beds as soon as possible, with about 30,000 of those units added to the more than 400 existing hospitals around the state.

For the roughly 20,000 other beds, the governor said the state has identified a variety of “alternative care sites” that can be used for patients experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of coronavirus, while hospitals continue to focus on acute care.

Newsom spoke from Sacramento Sleep Train Arena, the former home of the Sacramento Kings basketball team, which will serve as one of the alternative sites. Construction was underway behind the governor as he spoke.

Each site will be staffed slightly differently depending on where the funding and supplies come from, Newsom said.

Some of the larger sites, including the arena in Sacramento, will get medical professionals from the state’s new “Health Corps” initiative recruiting retired doctors, medical students and other professionals not already working directly on the pandemic. More than 81,000 applicants have already made themselves available for the temporary, paid work, Newsom said. Other sites will be staffed through partnerships between state and county governments.

Newsom said the state’s official count has reached 14,336 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (though independent tallies using different accounting methods already show higher figures). Of the state-confirmed cases, 1,085 people are in intensive care units and another 2,509 people are in hospitals, according to the governor.

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