On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the California Health Corps, an agency created earlier this week to supply additional medical staff in preparation for a wave of COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the state, had received over 25,000 applications in 24 hours.
“That was extraordinary. In less than 24 hours,” said Governor Newsom during the press conference. “I feel inspired by this response.”
The Health Corps has targeted recruiting health professionals who are currently not employed at hospitals or medical centers, including retired doctors and nurses, medical and nursing students, out of work health care professionals, and others who can help in the coming weeks. Governor Newsom has said he expects to see the peak of the virus in the state in May, with officials estimating that as many as 5,000 Californians could die in a week during that time.
In addition to more applications coming on Wednesday, the state is now reviewing potential Corps workers with their experience, licenses, and specialties. They are also assessing where they would be needed most in the state during the expected surge of coronavirus cases.
“In addition to Governor Mike DeWine’s response in Ohio, California’s has generally been praised as the way to go during the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted healthcare expert Dr. Ben Mu. “The message didn’t get out to some people who decided to go to beaches and things, but generally the attitude has been pretty ‘we’re all in this together’, and that’s why the curve of cases hasn’t been as bad as New York or other states out east.”
“Again, could have been better, but California bought itself some time too. Plus they’re one of the few states that are actively keeping public schools open via the internet and trying to keep some semblance of normalcy.”
When asked about the Health Corps, Mu explained that it was needed.
“You’ve seen how New York was just overrun with cases, and California acted against that. I’d compare it to some of the programs of the New Deal like the CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps]. There was a need, back then it was jobs and the need for new infrastructure, so a new agency was created. Here and now, in the medical field, California has a need for healthcare workers and also a growing number of people who need work. It’s not the most perfect analogy, but it fits in with the ‘we need this now’ sort of mentality.”
“California is preparing for the worst case scenario, and with this Corps, they’re doing a good job so far in my book.”
The Medical Corps is expected to come into use in the coming weeks with an expected rise in cases. There is no current estimate on how long the Corps will be used, but officials have noted that it is expected to be temporary.