The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis, the likes of which the nation has never experienced before. Elon Musk is among an array of influential business leaders who are using their platform and business acumen to get critical healthcare equipment in the hands of frontline healthcare workers.
By now, all Americans are well-acquainted with the scope and severity of the global pandemic that is the Coronavirus. What once seemed like an issue primarily isolated to far off lands has since come to America’s shores and entrenched itself in every U.S. state. As of the writing of this article, the United States has over 148,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases and over 2,600 virus-related deaths. No country in the world has more confirmed cases. Government-mandated “shelter-in-place” orders and outright community lockdowns at the local and state level have disrupted seemingly every aspect of American life. The exponential growth in cases in some of the hardest-hit communities – like New York City – has strained healthcare capacity and led to worrying concerns over shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators.
In the midst of the chaos, many leading U.S. manufacturers have stepped up to donate critical healthcare items and equipment. In some cases, companies have repurposed existing manufacturing facilities to manufacture things like ventilators in order to help meet the explosive demand for this life saving equipment.
Elon Musk, is one such business leader who has put their skills and influence to good use in an effort to help healthcare facilities stock up on ventilators and PPE. In early March, however, Musk – like many Americans – didn’t yet realize the gravity of the Coronavirus situation or the enormity of the public health crisis that would soon present itself in the United States. In a March 6th tweet, Musk quipped that “the coronavirus panic is dumb.” Two days later, Musk described the fatality rate from the disease as being “greatly overstated.” By the end of the month, Musk had done a complete 180 and pledged to use his business chops and engineering expertise to do everything he could to help the country battle the Coronavirus.
March 18 & 19:
In an odd reminder of the power of Twitter, Musk promised in a Twitter exchange with Fivethirtyeight’s Nate Silver and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio that Tesla would welcome the opportunity to manufacture ventilators for New York if a shortage of existing ones became imminent.
This is great news. I don’t know exactly which hospitals are most in need, but my understanding is NYC and Seattle hospitals are in acute danger. If you’re a hospital with a ventilator shortage or someone in a position to compile a list, please let @elonmusk and me know here. https://t.co/cecrQIj9GS — Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 19, 2020
Sounds good, we will connect with your team to understand potential needs — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
Musk pledged that Tesla would donate at least 250,000 3M-produced N95 surgical masks to hospitals in need across the country. A shipment of 50,000 was delivered to the doorstep of a University of Washington physician to be used by medical workers at the UW Medical Center. UCLA Health was another appreciative recipient of a donated shipment of N95 surgical masks.
Thank you @elonmusk & @Tesla for the much needed supplies. #TeamLA @UCLAHealth @3M #COVID19 #coronavirus https://t.co/ZalSlyWehS — Edmund Tsui, MD (@EdmundTsuiMD) March 22, 2020
Musk announced in a tweet that Tesla purchased 1,255 FDA-approved surplus ventilators from China and donated almost all of them to California. California Governor Gavin Newsom welcomed the donation and lauded the gesture as an “heroic effort.”
Thanks Tesla China team, China Customs Authority & LAX customs for acting so swiftly — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2020
Musk announced that Tesla’s factory in Buffalo, New York would be retooled to produce ventilators “as soon as humanly possible.” The facility was previously forced to shut down following its designation as a “nonessential” business that was impacted by the statewide shutdown. Musk stated further that Tesla “will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”
Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak announced on CNBC this morning that they’ve already started working with @Tesla — and they’re fast on track to start production of ventilators at Fremont! Tesla 👏 team 👏 gets 👏 it 👏 done 👏 @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/AwMH2QkI59 — Viv 🐉 (@flcnhvy) March 25, 2020
Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2020
Musk donated hundreds of ventilators to the state of New York that would eventually find their way to hospitals in New York City and throughout the state. Mayor of NYC Bill de Blasio expressed his appreciation for Musk on Twitter:
You’re most welcome. Credit to the Tesla team. Will do our best to help in any way. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 27, 2020
The United States is facing an unprecedented public health crisis that will require both a coordinated government response and a commitment among the public to heed the CDC’s “social distancing” guidance. The generosity of influential business leaders like Elon Musk, however, is a major differentiating factor that the country has at its disposal compared to other countries battling the invisible Coronavirus enemy. While the Coronavirus has all but halted Tesla’s whole business, Elon Musk has embraced a philanthropic mindset as he helps get critical healthcare equipment in the hands of the healthcare workers that need it most. Musk may have been a skeptic initially, but his renewed commitment to leading by example in a time of crisis is admirable. Hopefully his leadership inspires other business leaders to follow suit. Keep up the good work, Elon!
Cover photo source: Vox.com