Elon Musk has said about 1,200 ventilators are expected to be ready for distribution in the U.S. this week, an effort that could help medical experts treat severe cases of COVID-19.
The Tesla boss said on Saturday that he had discussed engineering “state of the art” ventilators with Medtronic, an Ireland-based healthcare firm that mainly serves the U.S. market. His company sent out tens of thousands of N95 respirator masks to states impacted by the novel coronavirus over the weekend, and Musk has promised more protective medical equipment is now imminent.
“We’re working on getting other types of PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] too,” Musk tweeted yesterday. “Ventilators should arrive within a few days.”
Musk said he expects to have an estimated 1,200 ventilators to distribute from this week but noted that “getting them delivered, installed & operating is the harder part.”
“Supply chain logistics—getting masks & other PPE to the right places in time—is the main issue we’re hearing from ER physicians,” he wrote about the mask deliveries.
Without mentioning numbers, he later added that at least one shipment of N95 face masks had been held up at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Last week, Musk confirmed he was “working on” production of ventilators that could help states that are suffering from a shortage of the equipment, used to help patients’ breathing.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told the CEO he needed “thousands [of ventilators] in this city over the next few weeks.”
Over the weekend, the University of Washington School of Medicine received a donation from Tesla of approximately 50,000 N95 masks. A truckload of PPE, including medical masks and gowns, were also sent to UCLA Health in Los Angeles, according to Hollywood film director Peyton Reed.
The disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is a highly-infectious respiratory illness that first surfaced in the city of Wuhan, China, before rapidly spreading around the world.
At the time of writing, there are more than 343,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, over 35,000 of those in the U.S. The global death toll is more than 14,700, with 98,800 people making a recovery, according to Johns Hopkins University. Many countries are currently enforcing a lockdown on citizens in an attempt to limit its spread.
Musk is not alone in sending company reserves to hospitals and medical centers. Alongside Tesla, Apple and Facebook have collectively been responsible for distributing millions of masks.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post yesterday that his social media empire had donated its emergency reserve of 720,000 masks that had previously been purchased during the wildfire crisis. He added: “We’re also working on sourcing millions of more to donate.”
Apple boss Tim Cook said his firm will send “millions of masks” across the U.S. and Europe. Cook did not give a specific number, but Vice President Mike Pence said in a White House briefing on Saturday that Apple officials said they would be donating “two million industrial masks” to the U.S.
Pence said during the same briefing that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had placed an order of “hundreds of millions of N95 masks” that was coordinated through FEMA.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a letter to employees over the weekend that orders for “millions of face masks” had recently been placed for staff and contractors, but very few had been filled.
He wrote: “Masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics.
“It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line,” Bezos continued. “When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people.”
Tesla, Facebook and Apple have each been contacted for additional comment by Newsweek.
World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
- Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks.
- Clean hands after disposing of mask.
- Do not reuse single-use masks.