Just a day after General Motors began working with a medical device company to determine what it needs to do make ventilators, President Donald Trump gave the automaker, as well as Ford and Tesla permission to start making the devices.
Trump revealed he’d given them approval to begin ventilator and other related production via Twitter on Sunday.
“Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! @fema Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?” he said on Twitter. It was not immediately clear what Trump meant by the companies “being given the go ahead,” Reuters reported.
The number of Americans stricken by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has escalated rapidly in recent days, known cases at one point increasing by about 50% in a 24-hour period. But medical experts have complained that the U.S. remains seriously short of key supplies, starting with basic tests needed to determine who has the disease.
As of March 20, there were 15,219 cases and 201 total deaths, according to the Centers of Disease Control. The numbers have risen since then.
There are no vaccines yet known that can reduce the impact of COVID-19 which, in extreme cases, causes serious lung problems. At that point, a patient is likely to require a ventilator in order to have even a chance for survival.
The leaders of the GM manufacturing team met with officials from Ventec Life Systems on Thursday to work out specific ways the automaker could assist in ramping up ventilator production. That could include a variety of steps, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned, including the use of GM plants to produce parts or even whole ventilators.
“With GM’s help, Ventec will increase ventilator production,” Chris Kiple, Ventec’s CEO said in a statement released Friday night. “By tapping their expertise, GM is enabling us to get more ventilators to more hospitals much faster. This partnership will help save lives.”
Ford Motor Co. also reached out to the White House to see how it could assist in the fight against the coronavirus, though it has not yet announced any specific plans. Ford officials have not yet responded to a request for information today by TheDetroitBureau.com.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company would jump in to help produce ventilators during his attempt to keep the company’s Fremont, California plant open despite the order to close the facility during a shelter-in-place order in Alameda County. The plant is now scheduled to close today, although getting Trump’s approval will likely change that. Tesla officials have not yet responded to an email from TheDetroitBureau.com.