SAN MATEO (KPIX) – The National Guard has unpacked a cache of medical supplies and equipment, in order to establish an emergency field hospital at the San Mateo County Event Center.

The initial delivery came Sunday night, and the soldiers will be site through Tuesday, March 31, according to a statement from the San Mateo County Joint Information Center. Once finished, the event center will have capacity for 250 “low acuity beds”.

“The latest projections estimate that a medical surge could push the hospitals in our county to capacity and we’ll need another location to house patients requiring particular levels of care,” said County Manager Mike Callagy, in the statement. “We can’t just wait to see if this will happen. We need to prepare now so that we can be ready to care for our friends, neighbors and loved ones when they need it most.”

San Mateo County will be one of eight such locations to have temporary expanded hospital capacity. The sites will serve the overflow of non-COVID-19 patients.

On March 27, National Guard troops set up 250 beds at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

“This is about saving lives,” said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, “If we do nothing, we become Italy.”

Overall, coronavirus hospitalizations in California nearly doubled since last Thursday, going from 746 to 1432 on Monday. The number of ICU patients have tripled since last Thursday, going from 200 to 597 on Monday.

At his daily press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the launch of Health Corps, an effort to recruit a wide range of healthcare workers, from dentists to psychiatrists, in order to fastrack an army of frontline medical workers, to battle the coronavirus.

Participants can sign up at healthcorps.ca.gov.

“If you’re a nursing school student, a medical school student, we need you. If you’ve just retired in the last few years, we need you,” said Gov. Newsom, “And we’ll help you with your re-licensing, we’ll help you with protocols and processes to get you up and running and out the door, so that you can support the needs of the people of California.”

Nursing student Krista Alborg of San Rafael is just six weeks away from what should be her graduation with an associate’s degree in nursing from the College of Marin, but the pandemic interrupted her clinical rotations, face time with patients, so her graduation is still up in the air. But she’s still all in.

“I did sign up. As soon as I heard the website announced, I went on there and signed up for it,” Alborg said. She hopes Newsom’s new decree will help her get her degree, but it’s still not clear. And that could be bad news as the state is already in a nursing shortage.

“If we can’t get licensed this year, it also means that 14,000 of us nursing students will not be able to graduate and there will be no new nurses for California next year,” Alborg said.

“This is the work that we’ve been called to do. Now is our time,” said Dr. Shannon Udovic-Constant of the California Medical Association.

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