- President Trump tweeted today that GM and Ford need to start building ventilators immediately, a day after he questioned the New York governor’s request for tens of thousands of more ventilators.
- GM and Ford have each said that they are collaborating with medical equipment companies to build the systems.
- The systems are vital to keeping those severely sick with COVID-19 alive and breathing.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has strained medical supplies in the U.S. and has exponentially increased the need for ventilators, a problem that automakers including Ford and General Motors have said they would take on through their production capabilities. Now, a day after President Trump voiced doubt regarding the high number of ventilators needed in New York, he has taken to Twitter to demand that the two automakers begin producing ventilators now.
“General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!” the president tweeted on Friday.
On March 20, GM said in a press release that it was collaborating with Ventec Life Systems to increase production of ventilators. A few days after, March 24, Ford announced that it was working with 3M, GE, and the UAW to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as ventilators. The Lordstown plant in Ohio that Trump requested be used for building ventilators was sold by GM last fall to Lordstown Motors after the automaker stopped production of the Chevrolet Cruze.
Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the White House, after learning that the production of the ventilators and the retooling of the factory would cost $1 billion, decided to not go forward with the plan. The revamped car parts factory in Kokomo, Indiana, could produce as many as 80,000 ventilators, according to the Times.
On Thursday night, following New York Governor Andrew Cuomo saying on Tuesday that the state would need 30,000 ventilators, the president went on Fox News and said that he had a “feeling” the number of ventilators requested was larger than what was actually needed. “You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’” the president said.
The shortage of ventilators has been a persistent issue for the administration as the pandemic has worsened. The ventilators help those who are infected with COVID-19 to breath, as the disease often makes it difficult to do so. In many cases, they keep those sick with the virus alive.