Gov. Gavin Newsom opened a wide-ranging discussion on California’s response to the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday with updated statistics on the number of patients with COVID-19 in intensive care unit beds around the state.

Newsom said 774 people in California are in ICU beds on Wednesday, an increase of 16.4 percent from Tuesday.

“Why do I start with the number 774? Because that’s the number that I wake up to that I’m most focused on in the state of California,” Newsom said.

Newsom said just over 40 percent of the patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 to date in the state have needed to be transferred into ICUs.

“Those numbers represent our most urgent need in terms of keeping people alive and keeping people healthy and safe in the state of California,” Newsom said. “It is incumbent that we prepare for a surge in the number of hospitalizations and the number of ICU patients.”

Newsom said the number of patients in ICU beds represents a ‘roughly a quadrupling’ compared to the data the state compiled six days ago. The governor also said the number of patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 — 1,855 as of Wednesday — has tripled in the last six days.

“It gives you a sense of the nature of the spread and the nature of the attack of this virus and the nature of our focus as it relates to preparing for this surge,” Newsom said.

The state of California has recorded 8,155 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and according to data compiled by this news organization, 178 people had died from the novel coronavirus as of 5:20 p.m. on March 31.

The governor said the state of California planned to release hospitalization numbers by county later in the day Wednesday.

As California prepares for a two-thirds increase in hospital bed occupancy, Newsom said more than 34,000 licensed professionals have responded to a call made by the governor on Monday to sign up for the state’s Health Corps.

The governor said Tuesday that 25,000 physicians, nurses, medical assistants and other healthcare professionals signed up in the first 24 hours after he signed an executive order allowing state licensing boards to waive some requirements and determine how they would issue temporary licenses.

Newsom said the state has distributed 35.4 million N-95 masks to healthcare workers and a fourth tranche of personal protective equipment is on its way from the federal government’s national stockpile.