Coronavirus: California Counties Struggle For Fans

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Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to loan 500 state-owned ventilators to New York and other coronavirus hotspots outside of California has caught some local officials in his own state off guard as they scramble to acquire the much-needed medical equipment, especially in Riverside County.

Riverside County officials said the state had recently rejected their request for 500 additional ventilators, although the county expects demand for respiratory machines in county hospitals and medical centers to exceed supply in less than three weeks.

Santa Clara County, another region hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, is offering a $ 1,000 bonus for each device it receives and has ordered companies with these devices to report their inventory to the county.

“I understand and respect what the governor does. But are we going to be able to get the help we need in a week or two? Riverside County supervisor Kevin Jeffries said Wednesday. “I think we were all a little surprised. We are all trying to prepare, so we are not like New York. “

Newsom said on Monday that the state was able to lend the 500 fans to other states because California had an oversupply of devices and these areas were desperately in need.

California hospitals have purchased thousands of ventilators in the past few weeks, bringing their total inventory to 11,036 compared to 7,587. A thousand more refurbished ventilators are expected to become available in the coming days and weeks, a declared the governor.

Newsom said state fans would be returned if and when California needed them. The governor said California expects to see a wave of coronavirus patients in May.

“These are on loan. They are not donated, “Newsom said Monday.

Jeffries also said that Riverside County has an agreement to buy 300 new ventilators from a medical supplies business for $ 12 million, but the deal has since been canceled. He said he was told that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had acquired these fans instead to add them to the national strategic stock.

“To our knowledge, we are dead in the water,” said Jeffries.

FEMA officials were not available to comment on Wednesday evening.

Brian Ferguson, spokesperson for the governor’s office for emergency services, said the state was inundated with requests for respirators and personal protective equipment from state counties, and that he first helped the areas with the most urgent needs.

“The goal is to ultimately meet everyone’s needs. Those who need it the most will be prioritized, “said Ferguson.

The state wants to avoid sending fans to areas where they can be left unused for weeks, when other cities and counties may need them immediately, Ferguson said.

Although Riverside County expects to need ventilators when an expected wave of coronavirus patients hits in late April, 305 of the 512 ventilators currently in the county were not in use Wednesday morning, spokeswoman for the department said. Brooke Federico County.

County Heath officials say all fans will be in use by April 26.

Federico said the county initially asked the state for 500 fans, which was turned down. The county subsequently submitted a separate request for 1,000 pending fans.

Riverside County director of emergency management Bruce Barton said before state council of supervisors on Tuesday that the state had not explained why he refused the first breakdown request. county.

“I just want people to know that we’re working on it,” said supervisor Karen Spiegel at the meeting. “It is beyond our control. “

Riverside joins counties across the state to procure ventilators and protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Santa Clara County issued an order Wednesday asking individuals and businesses to report large stocks of personal protective equipment and ventilators in anticipation of an upcoming shortage as COVID-19 cases continue to increase .

The county has an adequate supply of equipment, but authorities are preparing for an imminent need for more supplies beyond what state and federal governments may be able to provide in the future. The order comes a day after the county confirmed 1,380 cases of COVID-19 and 46 deaths.

“The goal is to make sure we have comprehensive collective information about what PPE exists in the community,” said Dr. Sara Cody, county public health officer.

Officials predict that most people would not need to report any equipment. The personal information of those who do so will be kept confidential, said county lawyer James Williams.

Individuals and businesses with more than a minimum supply of equipment are expected to report to the county by April 15. This includes anyone with more than 5,000 nitrile or vinyl gloves; more than 500 N95 masks; more than 500 surgical or surgical masks; more than 100 safety glasses and face shields; more than one gallon of hand sanitizer; and all the fans.

“The order is about protecting the people who protect us,” said Williams. “We take refuge at home. These people are on the front line to protect infected people. We must protect protectors. “

Cindy Chavez, chair of the Santa Clara County Supervisory Board, said the county does not need more fans at the moment, “but we cannot predict what we will need in the coming weeks. In Santa Clara County, we need to make sure that we have fans for everyone in our community who may need it. “

Newsom said Tuesday that California has obtained a monthly supply of 200 million N95 respiratory and surgical masks to help protect healthcare workers. Delivery of the masks is expected to start in about a month, said spokesman Nathan Click.

The new effort will cost the state $ 495 million, according to a budget document the Newsom administration submitted to the Legislative Assembly. In total, according to the document, the state has committed to purchasing medical safety equipment that will cost $ 1.4 billion.

Mark Ghilarducci, director of the governor’s office of emergency services, said Wednesday that the provision of personal protective equipment to the counties of Santa Clara and Riverside – as well as the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Joaquin, San Francisco, Alameda, Sacramento and San Mateo – is considered the state’s top priority.

“It’s not just random,” he said. “This is closely coordinated with the places where we see the greatest number of cases we need to handle, and that doesn’t mean the rest of our state counties are not going to get” personal protective equipment.



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