Updated 1:21 p.m.
California has forged a deal to purchase 200 million medical masks each month for health care workers and other employees on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.
“We made a big bold bet on a new strategy and it is bearing fruit,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference on Wednesday.
A day earlier, during an appearance on MSNBC´s The Rachel Maddow Show, Newsom said he was tired of vying against other governments for personal protective equipment like masks, and that the state had forged deals with a group of nonprofits to purchase, produce and sanitize some 200 million masks a month.
The masks will be for California, but possibly other states.
“We've been competing against other states, against other nations, against our own federal government for PPE — coveralls, masks, shields, N95 masks — and we're not waiting around any longer,’’ Newsom told Maddow.
The governor has submitted a request to the state Legislature to use $1.4 billion from its disaster response emergency operations account to pay for the masks and other PPE. Lawmakers have already approved some of the funds.
The federal government has provided just 1 million masks from its national stockpile to California, but the governor said there is no animosity toward the Trump administration.
"On that point, quite the contrary," Newsom said on Wednesday. "We've been working extraordinarily well with our federal partners."
The state's deal on masks comes a day after California announced it would deliver some 500 ventilators to New York, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Nevada. Newsom said on Tuesday the National Guard would be making those deliveries.
Newsom also provided an update on the number of coronavirus patients in California. The number of hospitalizations continued to inch upmodestly, a 3.9% increase in the past 24 hours, in addition to a similar uptick for intensive care unit patients.
“Sadly, we had one of our highest death rates in the state so far" in the past 24 hours Newsom said, with 68 people who succumbed to the disease.
As reports surface from across the country that the virus is disproportionately impacting communities of color, California is beginning to analyze the number of positive cases and the impact on different races.
Newsom said that, with just over 6,000 positive patients reviewed, 30% were Latino, 6% black and 14% Asian — data that belies what other states are experiencing, Newsom said.
These findings align with California´s population, but only approximately a third of confirmed positive patients have been analyzed, and the state´s testing capacity is significantly lacking.
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