(Courtesy photo)

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide program Monday to expand the number of active health care workers as hospitals and medical centers face overwhelming numbers of novel coronavirus patients.

Newsom called on people like recently retired medical professionals, medical and nursing students and medical disaster response team members to join the California Health Corps.

He estimated that the state’s pool of licensed medical personnel could grow by as many as 37,000 through the corps.

The initiative is open to most medical professionals or soon-to-be medical professionals who are not currently practicing in the state’s fight against the coronavirus, including respiratory therapists, behavioral health experts, pharmacists, EMTs and certified nurses.

State officials will help corps applicants with licensing and certification if necessary, Newsom said.

“We are very, very hopeful with this effort that we will see a surge of individuals to be paid and compensated in the workforce and distributed throughout our care delivery system all around the state of California,” Newsom said.

The governor also announced his signing of an executive order that will temporarily allow medical facilities to staff an additional 50,000 or more hospital beds to treat coronavirus patients. State officials have confirmed 6,300 coronavirus cases, to date (March 30), including 132 deaths.

The state has leased health care facilities throughout the state, including Seton Medical Center in Daly City, to serve as coronavirus treatment hubs as the demand for hospital beds grows.

The state is also working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to probe whether large sports and multipurpose arenas like Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena and the Oakland and Los Angeles coliseums could be used as coronavirus surge sites.

State officials have continued to chase ever-changing requirements for personal protective equipment, Newsom said. The state has distributed an estimated 32.6 million N95 face masks to hospitals throughout the state and officials hope to procure some 10,000 ventilators as the crisis continues.

Newsom thanked San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, among others, during his Monday afternoon news conference for their cooperation with state officials to house the state’s roughly 150,000 homeless residents in hotel rooms, single-room occupancy vacation rentals and some publicly owned buildings during the crisis.

The state has procured 5,491 hotel rooms at the city and county levels, to date, Newsom said. State officials plan to discuss ongoing plans to acquire more hotel rooms with the California State Association of Counties.

“Top priority for us and we recognize we have a lot more work to do in that space as well,” Newsom said.

Qualified medical personnel can apply to the California Health Corps at https://covid19.ca.gov/healthcorps/.