Tesla CEO Elon Musk has offered to make medical ventilators from its Fremont, California factory if a shortage should arise from the ongoing battle against the coronavirus.
The statement by Musk comes as a surprise to many, considering his recently publicized belief that the global anxiety around the COVID-19 virus has been blown out of proportion and that the danger of panic far exceeds the danger of the virus itself. Musk’s controversial statements have provoked a large response within the Twitter community, including that of Raja Abbas: a Tesla owner within the medical field.
Update: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio reached out to Elon Musk in a cry for help after seeing his offer to make ventilators. “Our country is facing a drastic shortage and we need ventilators ASAP — we will need thousands in this city over the next few weeks. We’re getting them as fast as we can but we could use your help! We’re reaching out to you directly,” said the Mayor. Elon Musk responded.
“Please repurpose your factory to make ventilators which are needed ASAP. I am a Tesla owner and love the company. You have to stop being an idiot about this. This is a massive disaster. Ask the doctors in the field,” read a tweet by Abbas that was aimed at Musk.
Musk agreed to the request, noting that Tesla and SpaceX already have experience with manufacturing devices that support human respiration.
“Tesla makes cars with sophisticated hvac systems. SpaceX makes spacecraft with life support systems. Ventilators are not difficult, but cannot be produced instantly,” said Musk over Twitter, and further adding, “Which hospitals have these shortages you speak of right now?”
The need for additional ventilators has taken center stage in the ongoing fight against the spread of the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus that has strained hospitals and medical facilities with patients outnumbering available machines. The ventilator has become a critical first line of defense for patients infected by the virus, which attacks the lungs and prevents it from providing vital oxygen to organs within the body.
With more than two-thirds of coronavirus patients in critical condition needing respiratory support, hospitals and intensive care units in areas with a high concentration of infected patients have seen their limited supply of ventilators become fully exhausted. In attempts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and reduce strain on intensive care units, governments from around the world have implemented social distancing measures by way of school closures, work from home policies, and complete lockdowns.
The San Francisco Bay Area was the first in the nation to implement a strict “shelter in place” order that required people to stay home and non-essential businesses to shutdown. Tesla’s factory in Alameda County is among the businesses impacted by the policy that took effect on Tuesday, although it managed to remain in partial operation following a high-profile exchange with the County Sheriff’s Department.
The company cut its workforce by 75%, from 10,000 employees to 2,500 employees, as it remained partially open for essential business, excluding vehicle production. Musk’s offer to manufacture ventilators from the factory can be seen as a welcome invitation for medical facilities that continue to support the ongoing battle against the spread of the coronavirus.