LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom is defending the state's decision to loan ventilators to other states, saying they are not needed at the moment and will be returned.
Newsom announced earlier this week the state is loaning 500 ventilators to the national stockpile, where they are expected to help states like New York that are facing an immediate shortage.
New York state has seen more than 161,000 cases of coronavirus, with more than 7,000 deaths. Of those, more than 5,000 deaths were in New York City alone.
California has reported more than 19,000 cases, with more than 500 deaths.
Newsom said California has more than 11,000 ventilators on hand and only 32% of them are being used at the moment.
"Over 8,000 ventilators are not being used within our hospital system," Newsom said Thursday. "When these ventilators are used to save lives in other states, we have the firm commitment from those other states to send them back to California."
The number of cases and deaths locally in Los Angeles County also continues to steadily increase.
Los Angeles County on Thursday reported the total number of cases has risen to 7,971, with 224 deaths.
LA County health director Barbara Ferrer said the county has also seen the mortality rate increasing.
"Unfortunately our mortality rate once again has risen slightly, to 2.8%," Ferrer said Thursday. "That mortality rate is likely to drop once we've increased the number of people that are tested and can determine are in fact positive."
The nation as a whole has reported more than 454,000 cases of COVID-19, with more than 16,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Newsom defends decision to loan ventilators to other states