Federal Government Contracted GE and Ford to Produce Ventilators

Man is putting final touches on a ventilator created by Ford
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Man is putting final touches on a ventilator created by Ford

It's truly an admirable feat to see how our government officials can take decisive action during a crisis. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no country better at taking decisive action than the United States. However, we might have overreacted just a tad bit.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to order an astonishing 94,352 ventilators, just in case we needed them. On April 16, 2020, General Electric and Ford Motor partnered to produce 50,000 units and promised to have them delivered within 100 days.

In the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis in March, health officials were alarmed about the expected scarcity of ventilators, which were critical in aiding patients' breathing and keeping them alive.

During April, medical professionals expressed concern that the government's ventilator orders would not be sufficient nor timely enough to address the anticipated surge in cases during the spring's initial peak. However, the infection curve persisted longer than anticipated, and medical practices have progressed.

The approach to treating COVID-19 changed during the months it took for companies to establish their supply chains, test prototypes, and train employees to manufacture the equipment. Medical experts learned more about the virus and how to treat it. This led to new treatments and protocols that helped to reduce the number of patients who needed to be put on ventilators. For example, the use of high-flow oxygen therapy and proning (placing patients on their stomachs) had been found to be effective in improving oxygenation in patients with COVID-19.

As it turns out, our hospitals never needed anywhere close to the number of emergency ventilators our government ordered. Most of the ventilators ended up sitting unused in warehouses collecting dust, while the cost of creating and maintaining them came in at well over $3 billion of taxpayer’s money.

We can't blame ourselves for being too prepared. Better safe than sorry, right? It just meant wasting billions of dollars on equipment that will never be used. Wasting money is what the government is the very best at and they weren’t going to let this golden opportunity pass them by.

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About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

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