No, more ventilators aren’t coming yet.
The White House had been preparing to reveal on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off.
The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive. That price tag was more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.
Government officials said that the deal might still happen but that they are examining at least a dozen other proposals. And they contend that an initial promise that the joint venture could turn out 20,000 ventilators in short order had shrunk to 7,500, with even that number in doubt. Longtime emergency managers at FEMA are working with military officials to sort through the competing offers and federal procurement rules while under pressure to give President Trump something to announce.
Speaking of ventilators: There’s a lot of buzz this morning about news in Michigan of the leak of a draft letter on how one hospital will respond to families if faced with more dying patients than the capacity to serve them. It’s a coldly analytical assessment. What else could it be?
It’s a letter to patients and their families warning some patients will be “very unlikely to survive” even with critical treatment, and “treating these patients would take away resources for patients who might survive.”
“Patients who have the best chance of getting better are our first priority,” the letter reads. “Patients will be evaluated for the best plan for care, and dying patients will be provided comfort care.”
I’d be surprised if Arkansas institutions will differ.