Coronavirus California: Newsom calls for all healthcare workers to help during COVID-19 pandemic

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday a major initiative to surge the state's health care workforce amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. He said hospitalizations for COVID-19 have doubled in California in the last four days, and ICU admissions tripled.

LIVE UPDATES: Get the latest on the novel coronavirus pandemic in the Bay Area here

Newsom is calling on all medical professional, including recent retirees in the medical field and soon-to-be graduates of medical/nursing schools to visit to see how they can assist the COVID-19 response.

"We need you and we encourage you to take a look at that website," Newsom said Monday. "Five simple steps."

Steps that will put the state's medical workforce in a position to relieve pressure on our health care system.

"It didn't just say doctors and nurses. It was also calling upon behavioral health specialists, paramedics, medical technicians, the entire spectrum," ABC7 Special Correspondent, Dr. Alok Patel said. "And so, just being able to run an efficient functioning health system requires a whole breath of specialties."

ABC7 News viewer Angela Scott said her pinning ceremony was scheduled for May 11th. Of course, the the soon-to-be graduating nursing student, everything changed in March.

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"We wanted to help then," Scott said. "We were ready to go on the 18th. My whole cohort. We're like where can we go? What can we do? Sign us up!"

With this opportunity at hand, Scott said, "It's definitely a family conversation that needs to occur. But as far as going to the website and reading what was there, it looked pretty cut and dry to me."

Scott has dedicated the last six years of her life to pursuing a career in nursing.

"This could really be a defining moment in history for our nursing careers if we really are going to be allowed to go," she said.

Governor Newsom announced California is opening additional health care sites to treat people affected by COVID-19 and to assist our health care system by providing care for non-COVID-19 cases.

At the Valley Foundation School of Nursing at San Jose State University, the graduating class has had to pivot because of the pandemic.

"Over the past two weeks, instructors have implemented some virtual simulations online to address the nursing assessment and the management of patients with COVID," Director Colleen O'Leary-Kelley said. "Because we want them to be prepared if they go out on the frontlines of this health crisis."

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O'Leary-Kelley also pointed to SJSU's long history of helping others.

She said, "Back during the 1918 Spanish Flu, they made a makeshift hospital on campus. They had students, faculty and staff volunteering as nurses- kind of on their own. I think, here it is over 100 years later, and we're doing the same thing."

There are definitely concerns, especially from retired healthcare workers. Off-camera, many told ABC7 News they won't return because of the risk. Some retired nurses question what a return might mean for their health, their safety, and whether there are enough supplies to "meet the moment," as the governor puts it.

We asked Dr. Patel about those worries.

"I hear those concerns, I 100-percent understand that," he said. "Think one thing that we really need to pay attention to is what the working environment is going to be like. Most notably, the safety. And is there going to be adequate PPE- Personal Protective Equipment? Are we going to have enough gowns, gloves and masks to keep everyone safe?"

"Based on the fact that our numbers are still rising, we just need to be protected against a possible surge," he continued. "This is not only to potentially treat COVID-19 patients, this may also be used to treat a surplus of non-COVID-19 patients as well. Because remember, at any time, we're still hitting max capacity at a lot of hospital centers for patients' routine care."

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There are 760,000 healthcare professionals in California.

Newsom says that number can be increased by more than 37,000 by adding in people who recently got out of the workforce and those who were about to get in.

The state is opening additional health care sites to treat people affected by COVID-19 and to relieve the pressure on our health care system by providing care for non-COVID-19 cases.

"This is an all hands on deck situation as we prepare for what's ahead," Newsom tweeted.

Newsom says that the number of COVID-19 cases will likely peak in California in the next few weeks, depending on how well residents follow the shelter-in-place order.

If you're a medical professional, you can find out if you're eligible to participate in the California Health Corps and sign up here.

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan held a Facebook Live chat with Gov. Newsom shortly after to discuss California's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Watch the live stream below:

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