In an effort to help handle the surge of coronavirus patients, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA); forcing General Motors (GM) to manufacture ventilators. In recent days, Trump has said that the act has provided strong leverage as he speaks with private companies about voluntarily producing the essentials needed in response to the coronavirus.
“Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course,” Trump said in a statement. “GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”
The DPA order will require GM to accept, perform, and prioritize federal government contracts for production of the vital medical equipment. Economist Peter Navarro has been appointed by Trump to oversee the enforcement of the DPA; describing the policy as “the most significant industrial mobilization since World War II”.
The order, which was hinted at earlier this week, is a response to the supposed stalled negotiations between the WHite House and GM. Trump has claimed GM has at one point stated their ability to quickly manufacture 40,000 ventilators, but then changed the number to a mere 6000 units and at a premium price.
GM’s response to the public has been one of reassurance; stating that the company has been “working around the clock for weeks to meet this urgent need” and that its commitment to build the ventilators “has never wavered.” GM is among the farthest along of US companies working to repurpose factories in Ryder to build ventilators. GM is working with Ventec Life Systems (a Seattle based ventilator maker) in an effort to increase the company’s production. GM will be using its auto electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana to make the ventilators.
While manufactures have been working round the clock, Trump has faced fierce criticism from Democrats for not doing more to help facilitate the availability of ventilators to areas hit hardest by the coronavirus.
Currently, US hospitals have about 65,000 ventilators fully capable of treating those hit hardest from the virus. And while the country is getting by for the time beings, experts have projected that at least ~300,000 ventilators will be needed at one point in order to effectively treat cases here in the U.S. In the most severe of cases, the coronavirus damages healthy tissue in the lungs, making it hard for them to deliver oxygen to the blood. As a result pneumonia can develop, as well as the more deadly cause respiratory distress syndrome.
Officials in the states of New York and Michigan have already expressed a critical need for additional ventilators; and as cases across the US continue to rise, its only a matter of time until more states follow.