California Governor Gavin Newsom stirred up controversy after announcing his state’s plan to send 500 ventilators to the national stockpile on Monday, in order to assist New York and other states that have been hit hardest by the novel coronavirus.
However, officials of multiple counties in California have been requesting ventilators themselves. In Riverside County, one of the worst-hit counties in California, public health officials are predicting the country will reach its ventilator capacity by April 26. Kevin Jeffries, Riverside County’s first district supervisor, said, “It did catch us off guard, especially when you see 500 ventilators have been shipped out and our request through the state and feds have not been filled and our attempt to purchase them on the market has not been successful.” The county put in a request to the state for 500 ventilators on March 29, but it was denied. They then requested an additional 1,000 ventilators on April 1 and purchased 1.1 million N95 masks that have not yet arrived.
Newsom addressed the criticisms in a press conference on Thursday, pointing out that the state is currently using only 31.89% of the hospital systems’ existing ventilator capacity, excluding the ventilators procured by the state. He also said the ventilator stockpiles are pre-positioned strategically throughout the state so they can be deployed to those in need within hours.
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