In a statement, Ford Motor Co said it will produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days from its plant in Michigan in collaboration with General Electric’s healthcare unit. Following this, it can build 30,000 ventilators per month so as to treat patients afflicted with China’s Wuhan coronavirus.
The simplified ventilator design, licensed by GE Healthcare from Airon Corp, has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It can meet the needs of most COVID-19 patients. It relies on air pressure without the need for electricity.
Hard hit by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, officials have pleaded with the Trump administration and manufacturers to speed up the production of ventilators so as to cope with the surge in patients’ demand who are struggling to breathe because of the disease.
Hospitals in New York are using one ventilator to sustain two patients and New Orleans has only a fraction of the ventilators it requires to meet a surge of COVID-19 patients, said Louisiana officials.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump had said he would invoke powers under the Defense Production Act to direct manufacturers, including Ford and General Motors Co, to manufacture ventilators.
On Monday, the head of the United Auto Workers and other officials compared the auto industry’s effort to build ventilators to Detroit’s conversion to bomber production during the Second World War.
Ford plans to begin production of ventilators at a plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and will deploy 500 United Auto Workers employees. It plans to start production at the facility in the week of April 20, which is roughly around the time New York officials expect the COVID-19 patients to peak in their state.
These ventilators could be also used in other parts of the country where peak case loads are expected to rise at a later point of time.
Workers manning the plant will be stationed at a safe distance apart and will be screened for symptoms of coronavirus infection before they enter the plant, said officials from Ford.
“We’re using and deploying a whole host of technologies to keep workers safe,” said Adrian Price, director of global manufacturing core engineering for Ford. “The safety procedures will be adapted from work Ford and the UAW have been doing to prepare for the automaker to reopen other U.S. factories,” said Price.