California will loan 500 state-owned ventilators to federal authorities for distribution to states such as New York that have an immediate need for them, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced Monday.
State officials worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine the number of ventilators California can lend to the Strategic National Stockpile.
“We still have a long road ahead of us in the Golden State – and we’re aggressively preparing for a surge – but we can’t turn our back on Americans whose lives depend on having a ventilator now,” Newsom said in a statement. “We’re meeting this moment with compassion. I know that if the tables were turned and we were experiencing a hospital surge, other states would come to our aid and provide ventilators just as we are today.”
As of Monday, California has confirmed 343 deaths and 14,336 cases in the pandemic. The state of New York has reported 4,159 deaths and more than 122,000 cases, according to the latest data available from Johns Hopkins.
In March, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo demanded that ventilators from the federal stockpile immediately go to his hard-struck state.
In a news conference on Monday, Newsom said California made the decision to lend equipment as the state’s inventory jumped from about 7,500 ventilators a few weeks ago to more than 11,000 over the weekend.
The governor cited the state’s partnerships, including with China, as well as the more than 1,000 ventilators refurbished by Northern California-based Bloom Energy and other companies.
The loan is conditional and will be returned to California if conditions change, Newsom said.
“This is the state of California,” Newsom said. “We have an abundant mindset. We are a well-resourced state. I imagine everyone expects California to do more than most other states. And we’ll continue to try our best.”
Newsom previously signaled that California may step up to help other states in the fight against the coronavirus, touting the large number of people who have signed up for the new California Health Corps as well as the local companies that have volunteered to supply and refurbish medical equipment.
While California is sending ventilators for use by other states, officials are still working to secure more beds and other medical equipment for California’s medical workforce, Newsom’s office said.
The governor over the weekend expressed pride for the state’s response to the outbreak, but acknowledged that the availability of COVID-19 testing for Californians has fallen short. He announced a new task force that aims to increase daily testing by 500% and cut wait times for results.
The White House said the federal government continues to support state response, including in California, by providing federal funding and medical supplies.