Is it Elon Musk to the rescue again?
Throughout much of the consternation around an unprecedented coronavirus that threatens to overfill American hospitals, there’s been a lot of desperate pleading for ventilators.
America’s top innovator plans to help – according to CNet reports, Elon Musk announced yesterday that Tesla’s New York factory will seem soon re-open to produce extra ventilators for America’s hospitals.
The importance of this effort can’t really be overstated. All of the national social distancing and lockdown measures currently being undertaken are meant to ‘flatten the curve’ and relieve the burden on the healthcare system. But with ventilators as a key bottleneck, new production would mean increased capability to handle new cases and triage patients more effectively – a very much needed game-changer.
As the media processes Musk’s announcement, there’s a lot of questioning about why other parties aren’t working as quickly to solve the problem.
In New York, the current epicenter of the viral activity, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state received 400 ventilators from FEMA, but needs 30,000 more. This begs the question: where are they going to come from? There are also many other unknowns.
“Those who receive ventilators are typically the sickest patients in the hospital, and the decision to put them on ventilators is often the last resort to save their lives,” wrote Elizabeth Chuck at CBS News yesterday. “The time a patient stays on a ventilator can vary from days to weeks, experts said.”
In that context, Musk’s offer is a lot more than just a gesture. It’s hard to top some of Musk’s past proposals such as hyperloop, or his successful founding of both Tesla and SpaceX, but in the end, ventilator production could be the single most important contribution that the South Africa-born technology pioneer is known for when all of this hits the history books.