CBS Los Angeles

Coronavirus: California Could Be Short 20,000 Hospital Beds In Worst-Case Scenario

California, bracing for a worst-case coronavirus outbreak scenario, has placed the National Guard on alert.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Bracing for a worst-case coronavirus outbreak scenario, California has placed the National Guard on alert and made an accounting of its staffed hospital beds.

California Gov. Newsom announced Tuesday he put the National Guard on alert in preparation for humanitarian missions across the state, including food distribution, ensuring the integrity of supply lines, and supporting public safety. No units have been called up yet.

Much of the state’s schools, businesses, and industries have been shut down and several areas have been ordered to shelter in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19. In California, 13 people have died of coronavirus and there are 598 confirmed cases, as of Wednesday.

In his briefing Tuesday, Newsom said California’s accounting of hospital beds found that it could be short 20,000 if the coronavirus outbreak becomes very severe.

Newsom said California has 78,000 staffed hospital beds and can add another 10,000 in a crisis. But experts have predicted the state could be up to 20,000 beds short.

To prepare, Newsom said the state is negotiating with two hospitals, one in Northern California and another in Southern California, to build out overflow beds for sick people.