Coronavirus: Bloom Energy shifts focus, refurbishes ventilators to help hospitals during COVID-19 pandemic

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KGO) -- Governor Gavin Newsom lead a round of applause for tech workers putting in long hours in what was a Sunnyvale warehouse for Bloom Energy just days ago, now it's become a pop-up assembly line for life-saving ventilators.

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Balloons simulate lungs during tests, Bloom Energy is working to refurbish hundreds of ventilators from the state's emergency supply in hopes of getting them to hospitals to help treat coronavirus patients, the number of patients, still surging.

"Yesterday ICU numbers went up 105% overnight in the state of California," said Governor Newsom.

The state has secured 4,000 ventilators but may need at least 10,000. And thousands will need new batteries.

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Bloom Energy which normally produces fuel cells has stepped up to help.

"Hopefully, what we're doing here is to say, we can do this, a week ago none of us knew anything about ventilators other than what they're used for," said Bloom CEO K.R. Sridhar.

But workers are figuring it out and getting it done. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo was impressed by the ingenuity.

"I'm so heartened by what I've seen by people who can make this work," said Mayor Liccardo.

Joe Tavi, the head of manufacturing, was told a few nights ago that the company would get a shipment of wonky ventilators - he knew nothing about ventilators, so he did what any engineer would do: boiled a cup of tea and read the instruction manual into the evening. By morning Tavi set up an assembly line that by today would refurbish several hundred ventilators supplied to California hospitals by the federal government.

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Newsom says other companies are now pitching in during the pandemic.

"That's the spirit of California, that's the spirit of this moment, take responsibility and take ownership," said Newsom.

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