Some states are moving slowly towards reopening their economies while others are moving more quickly to reopen.
Correction: This story has been updated with the correct number of ventilators ordered from Hamilton Medical.
In a test of the country’s production capacity amid the novel coronavirus, thousands of new ventilators have started pouring into the federal government’s reserve.
Monday was the deadline for the first set of ventilators that President Donald Trump compelled companies to produce after invoking the Defense Production Act on April 2. The move came after coronavirus-stricken patients inundated hospitals and tapped their limited supplies of ventilators.
More than 4,400 of the breathing machines had been produced for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Strategic National Stockpile, according to Stephanie Bialek, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They include devices from GE Healthcare, General Motors, Medtronic, ResMed and Ventec Life Systems.
Zoll and Vyaire were supposed to supply a combined 2,210 machines by Monday, but neither company would confirm whether they had met the deadline.
Bialek said the devices are available for states and cities in need but that all current requests have been fulfilled. She referred questions on where the ventilators will be sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has not responded to a request for comment.
The 4,400 ventilators produced so far via the Defense Production Act exceed the 2,922 that were due Monday. An additional 850 are due Friday.
In all, the government ordered 187,000 from nine companies that it expects to receive in batches throughout the year. All of them will become the property of the federal stockpile, a taxpayer-funded cache of medical equipment and supplies that had between 12,000 to 13,000 ventilators at the start of the pandemic.
Four more companies have ventilator orders due by the end of the year, including General Motors, which has produced more than 600 for the federal government in advance of its first contract deadline, and Hill-Rom, which is currently working on a contract for New York before working on the federal contract.
GM sent its first two shipments directly to hospitals in the Chicago area at the direction of FEMA, which looked at patient needs, according to spokesman James R. Cain. He said all shipments since then have been at FEMA’s direction, too.
The first Ventec-GM ventilators were delivered to Franciscan Health Olympia Fields Hospital, near Chicago, on April 17. (Photo: General Motors)
But ongoing issues with the supply chain necessary could slow production at some point, if not already for some companies, experts said.
“It all starts with trying to get all the parts,” said Tim Fiore, the chairman of the Institute for Supply Management. He credited procurement leaders at General Motors for the company’s production success. “If you can’t get the parts, you can’t make anything.”
Public health experts last week urged the government to expand its use of the Defense Production Act to force suppliers to provide raw materials for ventilator manufacturers. In a piece published April 30 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the experts said that “simply demanding more ventilators isn’t enough” without the raw supplies to make them.
The White House has not announced a specific measure focused on raw materials and did not respond to a request for comment.
“Ventilators are comprised of hundreds of individual parts from dozens of primary suppliers, who in turn rely on hundreds of secondary suppliers,” the company Zoll said in a statement to USA TODAY. “Like most products, the supply base is global. Final assembly and quality assurance testing are the last steps in a long process.”
Zoll was expected to deliver 1,010 ventilators on Monday, but a company spokeswoman declined to say whether it met that goal. Prior to the pandemic, Zoll was a regular supplier of a rugged style of ventilators to the U.S. Department of Defense. The company announced in March it would ramp up production.
The company manufactures all of its ventilators in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. The surrounding Middlesex County, just north of Boston, has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the state. There were just under 16,000 cases there on Wednesday, according to a USA TODAY analysis of state and local health data.
General Motors, which is under contract for 30,000 by the end of the year, has been a bright spot in production. The company, which has about 6,000 devices due by June 1, has delivered 600 in a collaboration with Ventec. The automaker used its expertise in sourcing supplies to help the existing company Ventec.
Vyaire did not comment on the 1,200 ventilators it had due on Monday. The company has been working on a model called LTV 2200 that has already been used in Japan. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the device while the company goes through the formal regulatory process.
Vyaire is one of the largest U.S.-based ventilator manufacturers. The company sped up hiring at its plant in Palm Springs, California, in March. On Monday, the company announced it would work with an aerospace company to manufacture ventilators in Wichita, Kansas.
Under its contract, GE is producing 2,410 of models called Carescape R860 by the end of June. Under a second contract between the Department of Health and Human Services and GE, the company is working with Ford to produce 50,000 ventilators by July 13.
Medtronic is using emergency approval from the FDA to produce a model called Puritan Bennett 560. ResMed has transitioned its company from primarily making sleep apnea machines to making ventilators.
Hamilton Medical has dedicated its facility in Reno, Nevada, to fulfilling its federal government contract for 25,574 ventilators by July 3. Philips has brought in manufacturing process companies to help with its contract for 43,000 machines by the end of the year.
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2020/05/06/ventilator-makers-meet-first-deadline-deliver-4-4-k-amid-coronavirus/5176372002/