by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As confirmed Wuhan coronavirus cases in the United States surpass 60,000, our nation is in war mode. Winning a war requires all hands on deck. It appears American businesses and innovators are up to the challenge, however, as more and more private companies are contriving creative ways to play a part in beating this pandemic.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been making apparent his state’s dire need for more ventilators. …
… Last week, medical device-maker Madtronic as well as automaker Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk both tweeted that the two corporations were discussing how to work together in the light of the pandemic. Furthermore, General Motors and medical equipment company Ventec Life Systems also announced their joint partnership, under the name “Project V,” with the goal of speeding up the production of ventilators to “support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.” …
… After the FDA relaxed its guidance Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?”
After the president’s tweet, Ford announced it would work with GE Healthcare to “expand production of a simplified version of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator,” and “these ventilators could be produced at a Ford manufacturing site in addition to a GE location.” Moreover, Ford said it was working with 3M to develop air-purifying respirators to meet the demand for first responders and health-care workers. Along with the cooperation of United Auto Workers, Ford will also “assemble more than 100,000 critically needed plastic face shields per week at a Ford manufacturing site to help medical professionals, factory workers and store clerks.”
Besides large auto companies, other smaller manufacturing companies are taking action. Reuters reported this week that Twin City Die Castings Inc., which makes aluminum and magnesium parts for ventilator compressors, converted its production line to meet the higher demand of ventilators. Such conversion usually takes three months, but Twin City’s employees completed the conversion in just one week by working almost nonstop.