LOS ANGELES, March 25 (Xinhua) -- California has distributed 24.5 million N95 masks and has placed orders for an additional 100 million to address a shortage in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
The most populous U.S. state is currently going all out to deliver critical medical supplies to healthcare professionals working on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus fight.
"That is a significant number. It's still insignificant to meet our needs," Newsom told a news conference, noting it's good news for California healthcare leaders who are "demanding more and deserve more."
"I want them to know when those get off the docks, when they get through the airport, and customs, we're going to get them out as quickly as we humanly possibly can," the governor added.
"We're working around the clock to secure the personal protective equipment needed for those on the frontlines of #COVID19," Newsom tweeted later.
N95 masks can provide medical workers with better protection than loose-fitting surgical masks from coronavirus infection. Local medical staff welcomed Newsom's announcement.
"As an ICU (intensive care unit) nurse, I appreciate your leadership and your ability to get these masks into our hospitals," commented a twitter user, Karla Kinell.
"Appreciate it. My wife now has a mask to wear at the hospital that she works at. But she's gone weeks with no mask or having to re-use masks," wrote another twitter user, Dan Ford, adding that "Our hospitals, counties and state should have been more prepared."
California and many other U.S. states are suffering from a shortage of medical supplies, including masks, gloves, protective suits and respirators which are essential for health care professionals in fighting COVID-19.
California is one of the hardest-hit U.S. states in the coronavirus outbreak, having registered some 3,000 cases confirmed with 65 deaths so far, according to Los Angeles Times data based on reports from the state's health agencies.
Many of California's medical workers are running out of face masks, especially N95 masks, as well as other personal protective devices and disinfection products. Some have appealed for donations from the public.
Wang Mingli, organizer of a medical supplies donation campaign in Palos Verdes, Los Angeles County, told Xinhua that, within two hours on Sunday, they received 137 N95 masks and 2,207 one-time-use surgical masks from the local Chinese American community.
"We donated all the 137 N95 masks to Community Hospital Long Beach and sent one-time-use surgical masks to a local senior care center," Wang said.
Nationwide, U.S. companies have joined the efforts to tackle the N95 mask shortage.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced last week that they "have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19."
"We're donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe," he tweeted.
Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, said his company has donated 720,000 masks in its emergency reserve and is "working on sourcing millions of more to donate."
Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO at Tesla, has reportedly pledged to distribute 250,000 N95 masks among hospitals, and he said on Twitter last week that Tesla will donate more than 1,000 ventilators from China to hospitals in Los Angeles.