Ventilators built by GM and Ventec Life Systems were delivered to hospitals on Thursday night to help curb the COVID-19 outbreak, with more on the way to intensive care facilities today and throughout the weekend — in the first of a 30,000-ventilator order with the U.S. government, reports Tech Crunch.
GM delivers its first ventilator batch to fight COVID-19
The deliveries were made at hospitals in Chicago and Olympia Fields, in the state of Illinois, U.S., and represent a milestone for both Ventec Life Systems and GM, who launched their joint effort less than a month ago to produce thousands of ventilators for hospitals amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Earlier, GM had estimated producing the ventilators in its Kokomo, Indiana, factory would cost roughly $750 million, a price that included retrofitting part of its engine plant, paying its 1,000 workers needed to scale production, and purchase sufficient materials to make the units, according to a source, reports Tech Crunch.
President Trump balked at this price tag and took to Twitter to criticize GM's CEO Mary Barra. He then signed a presidential directive that ordered GM to manufacture ventilators with priority to federal contracts, only hours following the automaker's declaration that it would produce the devices.
Despite the disagreement, GM reached a $490 million contract with the U.S. federal government to manufacture the 30,000 ventilators by end of August. According to the contract, GM will produce a critical care ventilator of a different type than Ventec's, called the VOCSN V+Pro — which is simpler, with 400 parts. The other and more pricey version is more complex and featured a multi-function capability.
UPDATE April 17, 5:00 PM EDT: GM's ventilator production and future deliveries
To hasten its ventilator production capability, the U.S. government's contract with GM calls for the VOCSN unit to have only ventilator capability, according to GM, reports Tech Crunch.
Production started only earlier this week, with one shift — and workers at GM are just getting started. In the coming weeks, GM plans to add a second and even a third shift, according to a company spokesperson, reports Tech Crunch. It's estimated that more than 1,000 workers will be required to fill three shifts.
As of writing, 10 ventilators were delivered to Franciscan Health in Olympia Fields, with another 10 expected Friday afternoon to Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Later, a third shipment of 34 ventilators will make their way to the Federal Emergency Management Agency located at the Gary/Chicago International Airport, where they will be distributed to other locations, wherever the need is greatest, GM said, according to Tech Crunch.
UPDATE April 17, 5:15 PM EDT: Growing need for ventilators amid COVID-19
The need for ventilators in the U.S. is more urgent than ever as cases of COVID-19 are confirmed with increasing frequency in tandem to the beginning of widespread testing. While numerous people with COVID-19 report only mild symptoms, many others are fighting severe respiratory problems and need immediate hospitalization. The ventilator shortage prompted automakers like Volkswagen and Ford to seek new ways of scaling-up ventilator manufacturing. GE Healthcare and Ford licensed a ventilator design from Airon Corp, and intend to make up to 50,000 units in a Michigan factory by July.
Across the nation, automakers are producing ventilators, face shields, and face masks to help curb this most unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 disease.
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