Tesla CEO Elon Musk donates 1,255 ventilators to support COVID-19 fight

Musk bought the ventilators from China and 50,000 N95 masks showed up in Seattle from Tesla.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Hopefully, Musk follows through.

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 Chief Executive Elon Musk offered 1,255 ventilators for free on Monday to help the fight against COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes.

"China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night & airshipped them to LA. If you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!" Musk tweeted, offering praise to Tesla's China team as well as Chinese and US customs officials.

Ventilators are a crucial tool in treating COVID-19, which can cause respiratory problems.

In addition to ventilators reaching the LA area, the Seattle Times reported Sunday that 50,000 N95 masks made their way to the area, courtesy of Tesla. It comes after Clean Technica reported Saturday after speaking with Musk that the automaker has 250,000 N95 masks ready to distribute to hospitals. The automaker didn't return a request for comment, but it's good to see Musk's words led to action.

A local doctor on the COVID-19 frontlines took delivery of the masks on behalf of the health care community after she received a message from a family friend who works for Tesla. He explained the truck and its driver were on its way from Fremont, California, with the N95 masks. On Sunday, they arrived.

Musk didn't say anything about making ventilators at Tesla or SpaceX, the rocket company Musk also leads. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist who holds numerous roles in the medical industry, told MSNBC on Friday he'd spoken with Musk, who floated a timeline of eight to 10 weeks before its plant could produce ventilators. President  Donald Trump also mentioned Tesla as one of three automakers given the "go ahead to make ventilators."

Aside from Tesla, General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler each announced their own initiatives to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. GM partnered with Ventec to help rush production of ventilators through its purchasing, logistics and manufacturing expertise. FCA said it will start building masks for health care workers in China and ship them to US workers on the frontlines. Ford said it also plans to build medical equipment in-house via 3D printers.

Musk also tweeted he spoke with Medtronic about ventilator production, which the company confirmed in its own statement on Twitter.

Many medical professionals are worried about a lack of protective gear, especially N95 face masks. And as COVID-19 case numbers grow in the US, many also fear there may be a shortage of ventilators to help severely ill patients breathe, based on what we've seen in Italy and elsewhere. President Trump last week signed the Defense Production Act, which lets him direct private companies to produce essential medical equipment, but has so far declined to force companies to act.

First published March 23.

Update, March 24: Adds information from Musk about buying ventilators, distributing them for free and donating N95 masks.

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