This week the number of confirmed worldwide cases of the novel coronavirus has surged to more than half a million. The mounting coronavirus cases have left healthcare workers scrambling to find ways to protect themselves and their patients as shortages of medical equipment expose a US healthcare system that is unprepared for a pandemic.
In the face of this emerging crisis, private businesses, including Ford, Tesla, and 3M, have vowed to fill shortages of desperately needed equipment and supplies. Several large automakers have started to prepare their factories to begin manufacturing ventilators. To curb the spread of the virus, some distilleries have switched gears to produce hand sanitizer in leu of vodka. When news of hospital bed shortages surfaced, large cruise ship companies even offered up their vessels for future use as floating hospitals.
US Manufactures Vow to Ramp Up Ventilator Production
Automaker Ford announced this week that the company is partnering with GE Healthcare and 3M to help fill a gap in the production of ventilators, at a time when some hospitals throughout the country are already experiencing a shortage, Reuters reported. The companies have partnered under the code-name “Project Apollo,” promising to churn out thousands of ventilators in the coming weeks.
GM Partners with Ventec Life Systems
General Motors announced that the company is partnering with Ventec Life Systems to ramp up production of ventilators. Ventec is one of a small number of ventilator manufacturers in the US, and according to NBC News, the company has already accelerated production. One of Ventec’s founders Chris Kiple told NBC that the company will expand from its typical production of 150 machines per month to 1,000 every month with the hope that they will be able to hit 2,000 per month as the year progresses.
Tesla’s Elon Musk Will Open Ventilator Factory
The Tesla CEO promises to do his part in the emerging pandemic by dedicating a factory in Buffalo, NY, to the production of ventilators. Elon Musk announced on Twitter that his company is making progress toward this goal and he will continue to do whatever is necessary during these difficult times. It remains unclear when the plant in New York will being operating. According to Bloomberg News, Tesla is having talks with ventilator manufacturer Medtronic about how to meet the unprecedented demand for these devices.
Private Companies Create New Powered Air-Purifying Respirator
Ford is also working with 3M and GE Healthcare to produce a new kind of respirator designed for healthcare workers. The Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) is a translucent mask that fits over the face, drawing air in through an air-filtering tube at the bottom of the mask, CNN reported. The automaker is also looking to assemble clear, plastic face shields that could be used by both hospital workers and people in customer service jobs, who must continue to work during the outbreak.
Tito’s Distillery, Anheuser-Busch Brewery Commit to Produce Hand Sanitizer
Tito’s Handmade Vodka, a Texas-based distillery, is converting their operation to produce hand sanitizer. The company announced on Twitter and on Facebook that they plan to start making the new product that will adhere to governmental and industry standards. According to the Twitter post, the company plans to produce at least 24 tons of hand sanitizer over the next few weeks to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Beer company Anheuser-Busch has also committed to make hand sanitizer amid the global pandemic, the Daily News reported.