President Trump’s crash program to bolster domestic production of ventilators has generated such a domestic surplus in mere weeks that the United States is now offering thousands of the life-saving machines to nations abroad as part of its global humanitarian relief effort.
Administration sources now project the number of U.S.-manufactured ventilators will surpass 100,000 by July.
To put that number in perspective, the Johns Hopkins-based Center for Health Security estimated in February that U.S. critical care facilities had only about 62,000 full-feature ventilators, with about 8,900 more stored in the National Strategic Stockpile.
There also were another 98,000 ventilators lacking full capability that could be pressed into service as needed.
National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien told Newsmax on Tuesday, “President Trump has organized the largest industrial mobilization since WWII, creating a domestic ventilator production capacity almost from scratch.
“Now we are sharing the products of that leadership with our partners and allies around the world,” he added, “saving thousands of lives in the process.”
Trump has been on the phone with some 30 other world leaders, offering to ship ventilators to them. The administration already has pledged to contribute over 14,000 ventilators to countries in need.
News of the surplus is beginning to circulate abroad, and the Newsmax source says the administration is receiving calls from other world leaders looking for ventilators.
Providing other nations with ventilators could help counter China’s current diplomatic offensive.
China has been trying to shift blame to the United States while offering protective gear and other assistance to nations stricken by the virus, which began as early as mid-November, according to some reports. China first reported the contagion to world health authorities on Dec. 31.
That the United States has become an exporter of the vital machines is an extraordinary turnabout from March 18, when the president invoked the 1950s-era Defense Production Act, a law authorizing the president to order private businesses to prioritize federal contracts that are considered vital to the nation’s defense.
Trump first invoked the act on March 27, when he ordered General Motors to prioritize fulfillment of ventilator contracts. That came after presidential trade representative Peter Navarro, acting as Trump’s Defense Production Act policy coordinator, reported running into “road blocks” with GM to shift production capacity to the manufacture of ventilators at an automotive electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana.
GM projected it would soon be churning out 10,000 ventilators a month at the plant. The ventilators produced by GM were designed by Ventec Life Systems, a firm based in the Seattle area.
Just a few days later, Trump praised GM for “doing a fantastic job,” adding, “I don’t think we have to worry about them anymore.”
Trump’s use of the act as a big stick to leverage corporate compliance in the war against the virus was not without controversy. More than one pundit described the move as authoritarian, while some Democrats complained Trump should have acted sooner.
Not so long ago, commentators and even some doctors were predicting dire ventilator shortages that threatened to cripple the nation, conjuring images of dying patients left to fight for their next breath of air.
A March 26 Los Angeles Times article, for example, dramatically remarked: “The coronavirus will attack so many people’s lungs that thousands could show up at hospitals gasping for air and will need to be hooked up to machines that breathe for them. But there won’t be enough ventilators for everyone, forcing doctors to make impossible calls about which lives to save.”
Today, those fears appear to have been overstated. Several senior care facilities have been hit hard by deadly outbreaks, but hospitals have managed to cope. Doctors and nurses nationwide continue to be engaged in life-and-death battles to keep the virus from claiming more victims. But overall, the apocalyptic prophesies of doctors rationing ventilators did not materialize.
Now, administration officials are citing the abrupt U.S. abundance of ventilators as evidence of both the president’s effective management of the crisis and a renaissance in the vitality of America’s manufacturing infrastructure.
“We have stood up an entire industry from scratch for the first time since WWII under President Trump’s leadership,” said one administration official who spoke with Newsmax. “We basically just invented the domestic ventilator industry that is so robust, we are now gifting ventilators to countries all over the world to help them respond to the crisis.”
The source added that U.S. humanitarian relief will steadily expand as production of masks, respirators, gloves, and other equipment accelerates.
Nations slated to receive U.S. ventilators reportedly include France, Italy, and Spain. Assistance offers also have gone out to Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Peru, Chile, Panama and Russia.
“It just puts such a lie to this left-wing argument that we’re in this service economy where nobody is going to make anything with their hands, we’re just going to be an importer of Chinese junk,” the administration source told Newsmax.
“It just proves that to be a total lie. We’re more than capable of being a manufacturing powerhouse, under the right leadership and with the right policies.”
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