Trump Invokes Production Law, Ordering GM to Build Ventilators

Donald Trump

Trump said during the briefing that the administration would facilitate the production or acquisition of "100,000 additional units" of ventilators through other means over a 100-day period.

Previously Trump has been reluctant to use the act to force businesses to contribute to the coronavirus fight, and it wasn't clear what triggered his order against GM.

Encouragingly, the next day Autoblog reported that "General Motors and medical equipment maker Ventec are speeding up efforts under a partnership code-named "Project V" to build ventilators at a GM plant in Kokomo, Indiana, to help combat the coronavirus outbreak". Vice President Mike Pence said the White House is working with a number of suppliers to manufacture ventilators, even while they work with state leaders to assess "not just what ventilators are available in their state hospitals, but what ventilators are available in private hospitals across their state".

It was an unacknowledged about-face for Trump, who had actually cheered GM's sale of its Lordstown factory to a company planning to build electric trucks, tweeting in May 2019 that it was "GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO!" Small-government conservatives had urged against such a move, suggesting the threat of the law would be leverage enough.

"Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for weeks to meet this urgent need", GM stated in an emailed response to Trump's announcement.

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"Our commitment to build Ventec's high-quality critical care ventilator, VOCSN, has never wavered".

Another $45 billion will be put into the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund, providing more resources for states and local leaders to respond to the crisis.

Ventec is also ramping up its own production in its Washington state plant.

Later Friday, Trump said that in the next 100 days, the US will either make or secure in other ways over 100,000 ventilators.

Trump continued to rail against GM and also brought into the mix in another tweet. Ventilators mechanically insert and remove air from the lungs.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US topped 100,000 on Friday, the day after the country surpassed China to become the global epicenter of the pandemic. Reaching the 10,000 monthly amount is expected to happen far sooner, possibly by late spring.

Thursday evening, Trump dismissed New York's plea for help, questioning numbers "in some areas" and saying he does not "believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators".

The use of the DPA doesn't change the plan for manufacturing ventilators, Ventec CEO Chris Brooks said in an interview.

"I wouldn't tell me what you - you know, like being a wise guy", he added.

GM teamed up with a ventilator manufacturer and announced they could produce 40,000 ventilators, at a cost of $18,000 each, according the The New York Times.



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