General Motors and Ford won’t be able to build ventilators fast enough to help New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The companies are looking at ways to use their factories to build ventilators. Ford announced plans Tuesday to partner with 3M and GE Healthcare to begin producing face masks and ventilators to help fill potential shortages, such as the one facing New York state. GM said Friday that it’s working with Ventec Life Systems to manufacture ventilators.
The state has about 3,000 to 4,000 ventilators on hand and has purchased about 7,000 more, but it needs a minimum of 30,000 additional ventilators within the next two weeks, when the outbreak is expected to peak, Cuomo said. Even if GM and Ford can repurpose their auto factories to build ventilators, Cuomo said, they won’t arrive in time: “It does us no good if they start to create a ventilator in three weeks, or four weeks, or five weeks. We’re looking at an apex of 14 days.”
He said the state is now projecting it will need more hospital beds a lot sooner than thought, estimating it will need 140,000 hospital beds to treat coronavirus patients in as little as 14 to 21 days. The state, which currently has just 53,000 hospital beds, previously said it would need 110,000 beds for COVID-19 patients by early to mid-May.
He called on President Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act to secure more medical equipment and asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to release the 20,000 ventilators in the U.S. stockpile to New York.
“How can you be in a situation where you have New Yorkers possibly dying because they can’t get a ventilator, but a federal agency is saying, ‘I’m going to leave the ventilators in the stockpile,'” Cuomo said. “I mean, have we really come to that point?”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending the state 400 ventilators, Cuomo said.
“Four hundred ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators. You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?” Cuomo said.
“This is a critical and desperate need for ventilators,” he said, adding that the state is experimenting with using one ventilator split between two patients. “We don’t have any other options. There’s no other way for us to get these ventilators. We’ve tried everything else.”