DALY CITY (CBS SF) — Preparing for a surge of coronavirus patients, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that state operations have begun at Seton Medical Center.

The bankrupted hospital has been leased by the state in a plan to quickly expand the number of hospital beds available for victims suffering from the serious symptoms of the virus. The facility can house up to 220 patients.

Newsom said the goal was to increase the state’s care capacity by 50,000 beds.

“Seton Hospital was one of those early announcement we made,” he said during a Wednesday afternoon address. “We were able to get a lease on Seton and Seton is now already operational. That’s a significant milestone.”

He said the hospital was being staffed both from the existing medical team and also state medical teams.

“We are not just having conversations in the abstract about finding and procuring assets but also the human resources necessary to operate those assets,” he said. “That is the significance of Seton today. It is now being staffed by the extraordinary heroes — our nurses and doctors.”

Newsom said similar efforts were being made in Los Angeles to get St. Vincent Medical Center online.

Both hospitals had been owned by Verity Health, which filed for bankruptcy back in 2018, and planned to shutter both facilities. Now, Verity will operate Seton Medical Center on the state’s behalf.

Newsom said the first shipment of personal protection gear has already been delivered to Seton. He also said talks were underway with CPMC in San Francisco to use some of the rooms at its shuttered facilities.

In San Mateo and Santa Clara — the Bay Area’s two hardest hit counties — portable field hospitals from the federal government were to be set up at the fairgrounds and convention center.

As of Wednesday, San Mateo County had 165 confirmed cases since the coronavirus outbreak began with five deaths. Santa Clara, meanwhile, has had 375 confirmed cases and 16 deaths. In total, there have been 1,077 confirmed cases in the 10 Bay Area counties and 25 deaths.

Bay Area State Senator Scott Weiner lauded Newsom’s efforts.

“Now is not the time to close a hospital. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, we are in need of more beds for patients, and Seton Medical Center can provide that,” Wiener said in a statement earlier this month. “This is a hugely important step for the Bay Area’s capacity to support those needing medical help. Seton Medical Center is a pillar of our community, and has a talented staff with much to give during the crisis.”

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