- 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 more ventilators.
- gm and ford have each already said that they are collaborating with medical-supply companies to build the systems.
- the systems are vital to keeping those severely sick with covid-19 alive and breathing.
update 3/27/20, 4:50 p.m.: president trump, under the defense production act, has issued an order for gm to begin production of ventilators. "today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save american lives," the order reads. the act was first enacted during the korean war and gives the president authority to order production and distribution of goods necessary to national defense.
the rapid spread of covid-19 has strained medical supplies in the united states 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.
in a separate tweet also posted this morning, the president accused general motors of promising 40,000 ventilators "very quickly" but then pulling back and saying "it will only be 6000, in late april, and they want top dollar. always a mess with mary b" (referring to gm ceo mary barra).
on march 20, gm said in a press release that it is collaborating with ventec life systems to increase production of ventilators. a few days after, march 24, ford announced that it is 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 not to 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. and, according to bloomberg news, gm has already started hiring workers to assemble ventilators at its kokomo facility, and its partner, medical supplier ventec, has found suppliers for some 700 parts needed to make ventilators.
on thursday night, following new york gov. andrew cuomo's statement on tuesday that the state will 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 breathe, as the disease often makes it difficult to do so. in many cases, they keep those with the virus alive.
as of noon on march 27, less than an hour after the tweet about gm and ford, trump posted a new tweet claiming to have purchased several thousand ventilators from an as yet unnamed source. we will bring details when they become available.