Elon Musk Publishes List of Hospitals Tesla Sent 'Ventilators' to after Claims None Were Delivered to California

Elon Musk has responded to criticism of his company's ventilator deliveries and published what he says is a partial list of hospitals that were sent the life-saving units.

The Tesla CEO said Thursday that the string of recipients provided the "exact specifications of each unit" before shipments and said deliveries were "based on direct requests from their ICU wards," and he addressed media reports that relayed a statement saying no ventilators had arrived in California.

Musk said last month more than 1,255 FDA-approved ventilators were bought from China and sent to California, an effort described as "heroic" by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

But it later emerged that the devices being sent to facilities were mainly "non-invasive" and could not be used to treat severe COVID-19 cases without being modified. A tussle over the definition of ventilator continued this week after state officials claimed that none had been sent from Tesla.

"Elon Musk and his team told the state that he had procured ventilators and wanted to distribute them directly to hospitals with shortages," a spokesperson for California governor Newsom's Office of Emergency Services told CNN in a statement on Wednesday.

"The Administration is communicating every day with hospitals across the state about their ventilator supply and to date we have not heard of any hospital system that has received a ventilator directly from Tesla or Musk." The assertion was quickly criticized by Musk on social media.

"What I find most surprising is that CNN still exists," the billionaire technologist wrote on Twitter, before directly appealing to the social media account of Gov. Newsom with a request to "fix this misunderstanding."

Musk posted images and email correspondence he said proved some hospitals had already received the medical gear, although it was not immediately clear what type of ventilator he was referencing.

As Newsweek previously reported, Musk used the term to describe non-invasive equipment shipped to New York City when he was referring to a Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machine.

BiPAP devices, similar in design to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, are used to help a patient to breath but they do not deliver oxygen to the lungs like a regular ventilator.

"A mask or nose 'ventilator' with moderately increased oxygen percentage will help," Musk wrote on Twitter yesterday. "This is common in hospitals. Intubation, where a tube is jammed down your throat under sedation and you're fed high pressure, pure oxygen for several days to weeks is questionable."

He added: "I literally have the receipts!! This is so dumb." Based on his images, at least one invasive ventilating machine—reportedly made by Medtronic—was received by a New Jersey medical center.

The lack of invasive ventilators, which are significantly more expensive and time-consuming to produce than more common breathing aids, was first reported by The Sacramento Bee.

In a statement to Politico yesterday, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Director Christina Ghaly confirmed that Tesla had delivered 100 bilevel positive airway pressure units in March. She said officials were grateful for support, but did not reference invasive ventilators.

"They have been distributed to hospitals in our system and are being used as intended. These units are used for breathing and airway support, reducing the need for certain patients to be placed on mechanical ventilation," Ghaly elaborated. The San Francisco Chronicle reported one medical center on Musk's list, Sonoma Valley Hospital, confirmed it received six CPAP units, not six ventilators.

Gov. Newsom said in a press conference yesterday that he was not aware of the partial list released online by Musk and did not directly address the topic of invasive ventilators.

He said: "I appreciate Elon, I appreciate others that have really stepped up and lent their support and offered even more support beyond what has been made public.

"Apparently there was a list that came in of a number of hospitals, I was not personally aware of that list. I am very encouraged that he put out that list. And those specific hospitals, that's where he had been sending those resources. I look forward to learning more about where they went."

Tesla has been contacted for comment. California health officials said in an update yesterday there have been more than 26,180 positive COVID-19 infections and at least 890 deaths recorded in the state.

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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