Coronavirus US update: Trump ‘wakes up’, orders more ventilators to save lives
Doctors and nurses on the front lines of the US coronavirus crisis are pleading for more protective gear and equipment to treat waves of patients expected to overwhelm hospitals. The number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 104,000, with more than 1,700 dead.
After facing criticism for playing down medical equipment shortage in the US amid pandemic, President Donald Trump has finally taken a series of actions to ensure availability of medical resources and equipment to fight the disease as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 104,000, with more than 1,700 dead.
Doctors and nurses on the front lines of the US coronavirus crisis pleaded for more protective gear and equipment to treat waves of patients expected to overwhelm hospitals. Physicians called particular attention to a desperate need for additional ventilators, machines that help patients breathe and are widely needed for those suffering from COVID-19.
Amid the pandemic, the President on Friday invoked emergency powers to require General Motors Co to start building ventilators after he accused the largest US automaker of "wasting time" during negotiations.
He had previously resisted mounting calls for him to invoke the Defence Production Act -- a Korean War-era statute that gives the President broad procurement powers in national emergencies -- instead seeking to exert pressure on manufacturers to act voluntarily.
In a press conference, Trump continued to give conflicting signals, claiming that more than 100,000 ventilators would be produced quickly but then casually suggesting some could be donated to the UK and other countries.
Taking to Twitter earlier, Trump has also complained that GM lowered the number of ventilators they had promised to deliver from 40,000 to 6,000 and had wanted "top dollar".
As usual with “this” General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, “very quickly”. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke “P”.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!! @GeneralMotors @Ford— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
He also criticised GM chief executive Mary Barra, saying things are "always a mess" with her at the helm of the Detroit-based auto manufacture.
After Trump invoked the act, GM said it had been working around the clock for more than a week with Ventec Life Systems, a medical device company, and parts suppliers to build more ventilators. The company’s commitment to build Ventec’s ventilators “has never wavered”, it said.
Trump signs into law largest bailout in US history
On Friday, the President signed the largest-ever US financial stimulus package, worth $2 trillion. The massive bill passed the Senate and House of Representatives nearly unanimously. It rushes billions of dollars to medical providers on the front lines of the outbreak.
I just signed the CARES Act, the single biggest economic relief package in American History – twice as large as any relief bill ever enacted. At $2.2 Trillion Dollars, this bill will deliver urgently-needed relief for our nation’s families, workers, and businesses. #CARESAct???????? https://t.co/0WnTNFZPZD— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
The legislation also gives USD 3,400 for most of the American families of four, and billions of dollars' worth of financial assistance to small and medium businesses, and big corporations like Boeing.
Doctors decry scarcity of drugs and equipment
Hospitals in New York City, New Orleans, Detroit and other virus hot spots have sounded the alarm about scarcities of drugs, medical supplies and trained staff
"We are scared," said Dr Arabia Mollette of Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn. "We're trying to fight for everyone else's life, but we also fight for our lives as well, because we're also at the highest risk of exposure."
Even as hospital patient numbers steadily climbed, shortages of key medical supplies abounded.
One emergency room doctor in Michigan, an emerging epicentre of the pandemic, said he was using one paper face mask for an entire shift due to a shortage and that hospitals in the Detroit area would soon run out of ventilators.
"We have hospital systems here in the Detroit area in Michigan who are getting to the end of their supply of ventilators and have to start telling families that they can't save their loved ones because they don't have enough equipment," the physician, Dr Rob Davidson, said in a video posted on Twitter.
The President has roped in Army Corps of Engineers to build hospitals all over the country and activated the ready reserve components of the Armed Forces.
The US is working to sign contracts immediately with the major ventilator companies in the country, including General Electrics, Philips, Medtronic, Hamilton, Zole, and Redmed.
Boeing CEO, Dave Calhoun, informed Trump they will be producing and donating face shields to help medical professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Boeing is also offering the use of their Dreamlifter cargo plane -- the largest aircraft in the world -– for distribution of products all over the country.
On Friday, Apple launched a new tool created in partnership with Centers for Disease Control, the Coronavirus Task Force, and FEMA. Trump said his administration is actively planning the next phase in an all-out war against this horrible virus.
"We are now testing nearly 100,000 patients per day, more than anybody in the world, and we've now, as of even a couple of weeks ago, tested more than any other country in the world, and our capacity continues to grow," he said.