As CA faces shortage of ventilators and other equipment during outbreak, companies step up to help

California

As California braces for an expected surge of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, hundreds of companies are working with state officials to provide much-needed ventilators and other equipment needed to care for patients, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday.

The governor said the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units across California jumped 105% overnight, while the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus increased 38.6%.

“The one treatment we know works are ventilators… so we need more of them,” Newsom said. 

Outside of the hospital system, California officials have set a goal of obtaining 10,000 ventilators. So far, they’ve acquired about 4,200 — more than 1,000 of which need to be refurbished, Newsom said. 

The governor announced the numbers Saturday from a Sunnyvale warehouse where workers are refurbishing hundreds of ventilators that the state had in storage. 

Just a few days ago, San Jose-based Bloom Energy, which fixes and refurbishes fuel-cell generators, was using the warehouse as storage. Now, workers are repairing ventilators that had not been unboxed since 2011, some of them with batteries that were no longer working, Newsom said. 

On Saturday, Bloom Energy received 170 more non-functional ventilators that L.A. County had procured from the national stockpile. The company expects to have those fixed and shipped back to Southern California on Monday.

Bloom Energy is just one of about 350 companies that have volunteered to help California meet its medical supply needs during the outbreak, according to the governor. 

That includes Gap Inc., which is producing gowns and masks, and 7-Eleven, which has given the state 1 million masks from its Stockton facility. Elon Musk has acquired more than 1,200 ventilators for the state, Newsom said. 

At Saturday’s news conference, Newsom also asked anyone who may have old ventilators to get in touch with officials so that old equipment may be reused. 

Bloom Energy CEO KR Sridhar praised Newsom’s response to the outbreak.

“We don’t think we are doing anything different than what anyone else in the state should be doing,” he said of his company’s work with California officials. “We are in this together.”

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