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Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday his company would reopen its Gigafactory New York “as fast as humanly possible” to make ventilators for undersupplied hospitals contending with the coronavirus outbreak.
“Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”
The electric car maker had shut down its Buffalo, New York, production facility earlier this month following New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order to close nonessential businesses. Several New York-area politicians, including state Assemblyman Sean Ryan and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, had called on Musk to aid in ventilator production.
Authorities have identified the state of New York, especially New York City, as a high-risk zone during the coronavirus outbreak. The state reported more than 30,000 individual confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, as of Wednesday evening.
New York has more cases of the illness than any other U.S. state and accounts for nearly half of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. The severity of the outbreak has stoked fears among local leaders than New York’s hospitals will run out of key supplies, such as ventilators, face masks and hospital beds.
Cuomo said earlier this week that New York needs 30,000 ventilators to manage the expected influx of patients. As of Tuesday, state authorities had acquired just 7,000.
Cuomo has been critical of the federal government’s response to the crisis, noting its contribution of just 400 ventilators.
“What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?” Cuomo said on Tuesday. “You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”