California Health Corps Formed by Gavin Newsom to Fight Coronavirus – The New York Times

By | March 31, 2020
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Credit…Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Good morning.

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In talking about California’s response to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Gavin Newsom has been unequivocal: The state needs more hospital capacity — and lots of it.

Mr. Newsom has said that the state needs to add 50,000 beds to get ahead of the expected surge of patients.

On Monday, he said, that surge is materializing: The number of people who have been hospitalized with the coronavirus has increased over the last four days to 1,432 from 746, and the number of patients in intensive care has tripled to nearly 600 in that time.

The state has been able to add places to care for patients, including aboard a 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship, which arrived at the Port of Los Angeles from San Diego on Friday, and at convention centers around the state.

But none of that does much good without front-line workers — doctors, nurses, paramedics, psychologists, pharmacists and dentists — who have the skills to care for patients.

“It requires people,” Mr. Newsom said.

So, he announced a new initiative aimed at tapping a pool of some 37,000 retired or part-time health care professionals to help the thousands already working through the crisis.

[Read the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic around the world.]

Here’s what to know about the new effort, the California Health Corps:

Wait — is the governor saying that 37,000 health care professionals will just be sent back into the work force?

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No, nobody’s being required to work. And it will take time and effort to ensure that everyone who would like to help is properly vetted.

The governor said that 37,000 number was “the universe” of possible workers.

Mr. Newsom signed an executive order that he said would “provide flexibility” to waive some licensing and certification requirements until the end of June.

That will allow some medical retirees, as well as students who are almost finished with their training, to join the work force. They’ll be “deployed” somewhere in the state according to their preference whenever possible.

Those who raise their hands will be subjected to some kind of screening in lieu of normal licensing, the order said.

This sounds almost too simple. What are the catches?

As CalMatters reported, there are still many unanswered questions about how all of this will work.

Also, even before the state’s almost 40 million residents were given a blanket order to stay home, Californians who were 65 or older were told not to go out, since they are especially vulnerable if they are infected with the coronavirus.

The list of requirements on the state’s Health Corps website does not specifically discourage older doctors from joining the ranks, despite the fact that older Californians have been told to stay home.

Will people be paid?

Yes, and they’ll get malpractice insurance, too.

[Learn more or register at healthcorps.ca.gov.]


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  • Even as the White House has been consumed with responding to the coronavirus crisis, Trump administration officials have raced to complete a new rule, expected to be announced today, that would virtually undo Obama-era fuel efficiency standards. [The New York Times]

  • California built up a huge reserve of ventilators, masks and other equipment that would be critical right now. But the state let it collapse. [Reveal]

  • Bay Area officials in the first counties to order residents to shelter in place extended the restrictions until the end of April. (The state’s order to stay at home didn’t have a set end date.)[The Mercury News]

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Here’s what it means to “shelter in place.” [The New York Times]

  • Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles added more protections for renters on Monday, barring landlords from increasing rent on homes that fall under the city’s rent stabilization program. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • Four inmates and 18 workers at state prisons have tested positive for Covid-19. The news comes as family members of inmates and workers push for more protections in an environment where the virus could spread rapidly. [The Fresno Bee]

Read more about why the virus could spread easily behind bars. [The New York Times]

  • A swanky tennis facility in San Francisco will become a temporary homeless shelter during the coronavirus crisis. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

  • Emails and memos show how Tesla fought to keep its Fremont factory open, even after officials said they considered the plant a public safety risk. [Protocol]

  • These two women have lived through the Spanish flu, the Depression and the Holocaust. They shared their perspectives on this pandemic. [The New York Times]

I’ve written about March Fong Eu, the longtime California leader who took a literal sledgehammer to the patriarchy, how California helped shape McCarthyism and the work of Alfred Eichler, an architect for the California Department of Public Works.

I learned about all of them from digital exhibits put together by the California Secretary of State’s Office and the California State Archives.

If you’ve found that you have a bit more time lately for some low-impact mental exercise, I’d recommend checking out more of the exhibits, which you can find here. They’re full of gorgeous archival images and fascinating California history.

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Right now, one called “Farmworkers in the Land of Plenty,” feels especially appropriate.

So go forth, dig into the weeds, look at some pictures of California agriculture circa 1879. You’re not missing anything outside, anyway.


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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