Tesla CEO Elon Musk is Praised for ‘Heroic Effort’ After Delivering 1,000 Ventilators to California Hospital and 50,000 Surgical Masks to Seattle Researchers to Help with Treatment of Coronavirus Patients

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the automobile awards “Das Goldene Lenkrad” given by a German newspaper in Berlin, Germany, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

Elon Musk, entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has been praised for delivering over 1,000 ventilators to a California hospital to help with the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

The billionaire also delivered 50,000 face masks to the Seattle home of a University of Washington physician Sunday as healthcare workers continue to grapple with the extreme lack of personal protective equipment.

Despite repeatedly downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, Musk promised last week that he would procure ventilators to help with the shortage that is predicted across the United States.

He has also said on Twitter that he could use the Tesla factory to produce more ventilators to help meet growing demand in US hospitals.

Musk’s gesture came as automaker giant Ford revealed Tuesday that it expects to be able to send new ventilators to hospitals by early June. The motor company is working with GE Healthcare as it steps up to provide the vital pieces of equipment.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the arrival of the ventilators in Los Angeles during a press conference Monday, calling Musk’s work a ‘heroic effort’.

‘I told you a few days ago that [Musk] was likely to have 1,000 ventilators this week,’ Newsom said. ‘They arrived in Los Angeles and Elon Musk is already working with the hospital association and others to get those ventilators out in real time. It’s an heroic effort.’

In a tweet on Monday, Musk revealed that he purchased the ventilators from China, thanking his team for working so quickly.

 ‘China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night & airshipped them to LA. If you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!’ he wrote.

‘Thanks Tesla China team, China Customs Authority & LAX customs for acting so swiftly’.

Musk was also praised for sending 50,000 N95 surgical masks to a Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf in Seattle on Sunday just a day after she was contacted by a friend about the available masks.

A physician friend at UCLA whose brother works at Tesla called Adams Waldorf knowing that the Seattle area is in dire need of protective equipment, having been the first center of the outbreak in the United States.

‘It was just so, so fast,’ Adams Waldorf, who is starting a series of COVID-19-related research projects, told the Seattle Times.

‘I was told: ‘The truck is on the dock. They just need an address right now, no questions asked.” I didn’t have the address for the supply-chain manager or a phone number. So I gave them mine.’

Musk’s donation appears to contradict his earlier statements on the virus in which he questioned whether there would even be a shortage of ventilators across the country.

He has also previously called the virus ‘dumb’ while saying children are ‘essentially immune’. This has since been proven false with children as young as 12 being treated for the virus in the United States.

report by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security estimated that the US has roughly 160,000 ventilators that are ready to be used in hospitals, with a further 8,900 held in reserve.

This is well short of the 742,000 required across the US for a severe pandemic scenario, according to a 2005 pandemic plan from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Others have predicted the country could need over a million.

Musk has also suggested that he could employ his Tesla gigafactory to create more ventilators.

Tweeting in response to a follower suggesting this: ‘We’re working on ventilators, even though I think there will not be a shortage by the time we can make enough to matter.’

This would add Tesla to the list of other automotive companies, including Ford and General Motors, to use their manufacturing capabilities to produce ventilators to meet the increasing demand.

Newsom told the press that six California companies have also offered to help the effort by making medical gowns, and that he has spoken to a further 25 who want to begin 3D printing masks for healthcare workers.

On Tuesday, Ford revealed that they expect their own ventilators in hospitals by ‘early June’.

‘The problem is that the lines that have been in place produce hundreds or thousands. We’re talking about needing hundreds of thousands,’ CEO Jim Hackett said on CBS This Morning.

‘So we’re talking about early June, where we don’t think it’s a problem, but between now and June it’s about ramping up.’

The motorcar company is working with GE Health in the United States and McLaren Automotive and Airbus in the United Kingdom to produce the ventilators.

The company is facing delays as they rework the assembly line to ensure workers’ safety.

‘A factory is all about working together on a line, so the way these teams are designing the production of this is building some assemblies in smaller groups and having them come together to be assembled, but we’ll make extremely safe places,’ Hackett said.

Ford is also to start work on ‘positive air pressure masks’ which will repurpose the cooling system used in some of the company’s car seats to help protect medical workers from getting the virus.

‘Those products, in addition to the ventilators, there’s actually two or three different versions of breathing apparatus that we’re working on. Hundreds of thousands of the most simplest ones will be started to be produced in the next week or so,’ Hackett said.

Ford are working with 3M to produce the new kind of Powered Air-Purifying Respirator for healthcare workers, exploring the possibility that they could be produced in their Michigan factory.

And they will use 3D printers at its Advanced Manufacturing Center to create disposable air-filtering respirator masks, potentially creating 1,000 a month in the fist stages before ramping up production.

General Motors announced on Friday that it will also be working to held increase the production of ventilators for hospital patients, partnering with Ventec Life Systems.

On Monday the companies said that Ventec ‘is now planning exponentially higher ventilator production as fast as possible’.

The United States now has the third highest confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the world, with over 46,400. California and Washington, where Musk delivered supplies, are the third and fourth hardest hit states.

President Donald Trump has defended the lack of ventilators claiming that ‘nobody in their wildest dreams would have ever thought that we’d need tens of thousands of ventilators’.

‘We have tremendous numbers of ventilators, but there’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have, it’s not enough’.

In a report published by the Department of Health and Human Services 15 years ago, however, a pendemic influenza plan predicted that ‘demand for inpatient and intensive-care unit (ICU) beds and assisted ventilation services could increase by more than 25%’ in the case of a pandemic that caused more than 900,000 hospitalizations.

It added that ‘mechanical ventilation’ would be needed by 64,875.

Evidence for the coronavirus’ first major outbreak in Wuhan revealed that around 2.3 percent of cases required a ventilator.

In the United States, hospitals are considering re-deploying older ventilators, which still work but had been abandoned because they don’t connect to modern electronic records systems, while the U.S. Department of Defense has donated 2,000 ventilators, said Nancy Foster, vice president of the American Hospital Association.

‘Hospitals are also looking into re-purposing the machines that administer anesthesia to be used as ventilators.’

In New York, it’s thought that the city’s 6,000 ventilators will only meet a fifth of the demand.

‘No one really knows what the national need is. It really depends on how bad COVID-19 gets,’ said Chris Kiple, head of portable ventilator maker Ventec Life Systems Inc, in Bothell, Washington.

‘If it truly turns into a significant pandemic, we’re really going to have to focus on ventilator supply until we can get a vaccine to really help save lives.’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo fumed at President Trump on Tuesday for sending New York 400 ventilators from the federal stockpile of 20,000, when the state needs 30,000 to battle coronavirus.

Speaking at the Javits Center, which will become a temporary field hospital in New York City with 1,000 hospital beds, Cuomo revealed that the number of coronavirus cases across the state of New York had risen to 25,000 overnight.

He needs 30,000 ventilators to treat the wave of patients who will soon need care but FEMA has only given the state 400 from a stockpile of 20,000.

‘You pick the 26,000 who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators,’ he said on Tuesday in an angry plea to the government to share more.

He went on to say that Trump and the government have told him they will not release the ventilators ‘because companies are coming forward who want to do it.’

Trump boasted about the ventilators on Twitter, saying on Tuesday morning: ‘Just got 400 ventilators to NYC!’

Cuomo said that the state was so desperate for the ventilators that they had started experimenting by having two patients share one.

‘We have procured 7,000 ventilators – we need another 30,000. You cannot find them. You cannot buy them. This is a critical and desperate need.

‘We’re going so far as to trying an experimental procedure where we split the ventilator – you use one ventilator for two patients with two sets of tubes,’ he said.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Frances Mulraney and Chris Jewers