Elon Musk Sends 1,255 Ventilators to California to Help Fight Pandemic

March 24, 2020 Updated: March 24, 2020
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Responding to equipment shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he bought 1,255 FDA-approved medical ventilators from China and had the devices flown into Los Angeles.

Musk said in a tweet on March 23 that he purchased the devices on Friday, adding that “if you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Monday that Musk had delivered the ventilators, calling the move “a heroic effort.”

Earlier, Musk wrote that Tesla would produce “ventilators if there is a shortage.” He said in a separate tweet last week that plans for production were already underway at Tesla factories, “We’re working on ventilators, even though I think there will not be a shortage by the time we can make enough to matter.”

Epoch Times Photo
Employees of Hamilton Medical AG test ventilators at a plant in Domat/Ems, Switzerland, on March 18, 2020. (Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo/Reuters)

‘Millions of Different Type Items Coming’

Ventilators, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, are mechanical breathing devices that can direct air and oxygen into the lungs. They are crucial for the care of people with lung failure, which can be one of the complications suffered by patients with severe COVID-19.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread across China and fan a global pandemic.

The rapid outbreak, which has killed thousands of people globally, has strained healthcare systems around the world and led to a shortage of ventilators needed to treat patients suffering from the flu-like illness, which can lead to breathing difficulties and pneumonia in severe cases.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet Tuesday that his administration had just secured 400 ventilators for New York and that millions of different types of items would be shipped to aid states in their the emergency response to the pandemic.

“The World market for face masks and ventilators is Crazy,” Trump wrote. “We are helping the states to get equipment, but it is not easy. Just got 400 Ventilators for @NYCMayor Bill de Blasio. Work beginning on 4 hospitals in New York! Millions of different type items coming!”

Earlier, Trump said that General Motors (GM), Tesla, and Ford have been approved to produce ventilators to combat the virus surge in the United States.

GM has partnered with medical equipment maker Ventec and is building ventilators at its plant in Indiana.

“We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis,” Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Ford jumped into the emergency push to produce ventilators and respirators.

“We’ve been in regular dialogue with federal, state, and local officials to understand the areas of greatest needs,” Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett said, adding that the company’s aim was to increase the supply of necessary medical equipment.

Ford and GE Healthcare will expand the production of GE’s ventilator design, while Ford will also separately work with 3M to increase manufacturing capacity of its air-purifying respirators.

The company said it was exploring how it could produce these new respirators in one of its Michigan manufacturing plants and help 3M boost production tenfold. It would use fans from its Ford F-150 cooled seats to make parts of the respirators, the company said.

‘Significant Action’

Earlier, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had taken “significant action” to increase the availability of respiratory devices, including ventilators, in the fight against COVID-19.

“The FDA’s new actions will mean America can make more ventilators during this crisis,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

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Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar takes questions during a briefing with members of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force in Washington on Jan. 31, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

The FDA’s new actions to support response efforts to the pandemic, as detailed in a guidance document (pdf), include eliminating barriers to the production of ventilators and other respiratory devices, such as supply shortages or manufacturing limitations.

For example, the guidance says the FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion for certain modifications to FDA-cleared devices.

“Hospitals and other health care providers can repurpose machines they have now to serve as ventilators,” Azar said. “If you want to help expand production of ventilators to save American lives in this pandemic, we are going to work with you to sweep every possible barrier out of your way.”

Another change is that hospitals and health care professionals may use ventilators intended for other environments, the FDA said.

The agency stated this policy is intended to remain in effect only for the duration of the public health emergency related to COVID-19.

According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, as of March 24 at 9:55 a.m. ET, there were 46,485 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States and 591 deaths.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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