Elon Musk says his companies will make ventilators as coronavirus causes shortage

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is eager to take the Tesla boss up on his offer.

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Sean Keane
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Elon Musk could help out with the ventilator shortage.

Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Elon Musk offered to make ventilators as hospitals facing shortages due to the coronavirus outbreak, after a Twitter follower asked that he repurpose his factory to do so. However, the and SpaceX boss also noted that it'll take time.

Nate Silver, the editor of statistics and polling-focused news site FiveThirtyEight, pressed him for details.

"Tesla makes cars with sophisticated hvac systems. SpaceX makes spacecraft with life support systems," Musk replied. "Ventilators are not difficult, but cannot be produced instantly."

Silver praised Musk and noted that hospitals in New York City and Seattle "are in acute danger." Then he suggested that medical facilities in need should tweet him and Musk. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio jumped into the conversation too.

"New York City is buying! Our country is facing a drastic shortage and we need ventilators ASAP -- we will need thousands in this city over the next few weeks," he wrote. "We're getting them as fast as we can but we could use your help!"

Musk tweeted on Friday that his companies are "working" on ventilators, but added that he thinks "they probably won't be needed." Musk didn't offer specific details. 

The new strain of coronavirus, which can develop into a respiratory illness known as COVID-19, was discovered in Wuhan, China, in December. It's now infected nearly 316,000 people and caused more than 13,000 deaths globally. The US has more than 26,000 confirmed cases.

On Sunday morning, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to thank Musk's Tesla as well as General Motors and Ford for their help in making ventilators.

Ant-Man director Peyton Reed also thanked Musk on the social networking platform on Saturday night for a "truckload" of equipment including masks and gowns that were delivered to UCLA Health. 

Hospitals have warned that they're not prepared for the expected influx of coronavirus patients, and the US Department of Defense is donating 5 million surgical masks and 2,000 ventilators.

Musk drew criticism earlier this month when he tweeted that panicking over the coronavirus is "dumb."

Tesla didn't respond to a request for comment.

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