Coronavirus: Silicon Valley company shifts from making fuel cells to refurbishing ventilators

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KABC) -- With cases of coronavirus surging and the death toll surpassing 100 in California, a Silicon Valley company known for making fuel cells has shifted to refurbishing life-saving ventilators needed during the outbreak of COVID-19.

Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale has transformed its production facility into a pop-up assembly line to augment the state's supply of the breathing machines needed in order to prepare for a potential surge in cases.

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Since the onset of the pandemic, California has secured an additional 4,000 ventilators but may need at least 10,000.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 spiked to more than 1,000 and that overnight the number of people admitted to intensive care units doubled from 200 to more than 400. He said the numbers are relatively modest in comparison with the 52,000 confirmed cases in New York, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, but the trend could lead to overstretched hospitals in California.

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Bloom Energy received a shipment of 170 ventilators that weren't working after they arrived in Los Angeles from the federal stockpile.

"Rather than lamenting about it, rather than complaining about it, rather than pointing at fingers, rather than generating headlines in order to generate more stress and anxiety, we got a car and a truck and we had those 170 (ventilators) brought here to this facility," Newsom said.

They will be refurbished and are expected to arrive back in Southern California on Monday.
Officials say more than 350 businesses in California have offered to pivot their facility operations to focus on making medical supplies and other essentials needed during the coronavirus crisis.

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On Friday, Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the surge in COVID-19 that health officials warned about will worsen.

"We are now seeing the spike that we were anticipating," Newsom declared while standing in front of the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship Mercy that arrived in the Port of Los Angeles. It will take non-virus patients to free up rooms at hospitals for infection cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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