Elon Musk Delivers 1,255 Ventilators to California After Buying 'Oversupply' From China

Elon Musk has delivered more than 1,200 ventilators to California officials this week, an effort that will provide treatment for hospital patients with severe cases of COVID-19.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press conference yesterday the Tesla boss had made good on his pledge to provide medical equipment in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

"Elon Musk, how about this?" Newsom said. "I told you a few days ago that he was likely to have a thousand ventilators this week. They arrived in Los Angeles and [Musk] is already working with the hospital association and others to get those ventilators out in real time. It's a heroic effort."

Newsom previously sought the help of tech industry CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook, with mask and ventilator production amid fears critical supplies could run dry.

There have been at least 1,730 positive cases and at least 27 deaths in California according to the latest public data.

Musk said the devices were purchased from China and airlifted to the state, tweeting: "China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night and airshipped them to LA. If you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!"

Musk thanked the Chinese division of his electric car company, China's Customs Authority and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) customs for "acting so swiftly." He previously said on Twitter that a shipment of respirator masks had been temporarily held at the same airport.

"It's possible that customs is not involved but there could be another hangup. If you have details let us know but we continue to check on this," LAX tweeted, initially denying a hold-up.

It was later resolved. "OK, after some additional investigating we've found that this shipment has since been cleared for release by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]. LAX, U.S. Customs and the FDA are all working together to expedite critical PPE shipments," the account later added.

A February 2020 report released by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security estimated that U.S. acute care hospitals own approximately 62,000 full-featured mechanical ventilators.

It said an "additional 98,000 ventilators that are not full-featured but can still provide basic function in an emergency during crisis standards of care." It warned: "The need for ventilation services during a severe pandemic could quickly overwhelm these day-to- day operational capabilities."

The University of Washington School of Medicine received a donation from Tesla of approximately 50,000 face masks over the weekend. Efforts to provide medical gear to hospitals and health centers in the U.S. are underway by a range of tech firms, including Facebook, Apple and Intel.

On March 6, Musk tweeted "the coronavirus panic is dumb" but later said his company could help, noting on social media that he would start making ventilators "if there is a shortage."

At the time of writing, there are more than 46,000 positive COVID-19 infections in the U.S. Data being tracked by Johns Hopkins University suggests the U.S. death toll is now more than 590.

On a global scale, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 383,000 people and caused over 16,500 deaths. It is believed more than 101,900 people have now recovered from the disease.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks.
  • Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
Elon Musk
Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty