California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Saturday that 170 ventilators shipped by the federal government to help his state respond to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus were “not working” when they arrived.
Newsom made the remarks during a press conference in which he noted that the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units had doubled since Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Newsom said that the stockpile of ventilators had been sent to Los Angeles County by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He noted that a company called Bloom Energy was fixing the equipment.
“Rather than lamenting about it, rather than complaining about it, rather than pointing fingers, rather than generating headlines in order to generate more stress and anxiety, we got a car and a truck,” Newsom said after touring Bloom Energy’s ventilator refurbishing site in Sunnyvale, Calif.
“We had those 170 brought here to this facility at 8 a.m. this morning, and they are quite literally working on those ventilators right now.”
HHS did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.
Newsom said that he first learned of the problems with the ventilators after visiting Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) last week.
The governor’s office said in a statement Saturday that California had 7,500 ventilators throughout its hospital systems before the COVID-19 outbreak. The state has added more than 4,200 since, though about 1,000 have required repair.
Bloom Energy was expected to refurbish approximately 200 ventilators by Saturday, and the defective ventilators Los Angeles County received are set to be returned by Monday, Newsom added.
“That’s the spirit of California,” Newsom said. “That’s the spirit of this moment. Take responsibility, take ownership and take it upon ourselves to meet this moment head on.”
The coronavirus, which originated in China in December, has infected more than 100,000 people in the U.S., including more than 5,500 in California, according to a Johns Hopkins University database of confirmed cases. The state had reported 115 deaths from the disease as of Saturday.
The surge in cases in California and other states has led to greater concerns about a shortage of medical supplies, such as ventilators and masks. California has set a goal of manufacturing 10,000 additional ventilators, which can be critical for patients diagnosed with the virus.