Our Voice: U.S. should meet its own ventilator needs first
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Our Voice: U.S. should meet its own ventilator needs first

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We were a bit surprised, as the United States continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, that President Donald Trump was talking about sending ventilators — which COVID-19 patients need to stay alive — to Russia.

On May 7, Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin had accepted his offer, in a phone call, to provide ventilators to aid in the fight against the novel coronavirus, Reuters.com reported. Fifty ventilators were delivered to Russia on Thursday, NPR.org reported, and 150 more are to head to Russia this week.

A White House readout of the call indicated that Trump told Putin the U.S. was “ready to provide assistance to any country in need, including Russia.” Separately, a Kremlin readout of the call said it was “proposed from the American side to send a batch of medical equipment to Russia.”

Later that day, Trump told reporters at the White House that Russia was having a “hard time” with COVID-19 and that the U.S. would send “some ventilators” at the “appropriate time.”

When is the appropriate time to send American ventilators to Russia?

We suggest that it is sometime after the American death toll stops rising.

According to the Coronavirus Research Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, as of Friday the U.S. death toll had risen every day since April 16. As of early Friday evening, 95,886 Americans had died from COVID-19.

There will be an appropriate time to send ventilators to other countries. But with 1.6 million confirmed cases in the U.S., we need to make sure we have enough ventilators to meet our needs.

In March, Ford Motor Co. announced plans to build simple medical ventilators. Adrian Price, Ford’s director of global core engineering for vehicle manufacturing, said in a mid-April interview with NPR.org that Ford should be able to make its target of producing 50,000 ventilators by July 4.

Sometime after that, Mr. President.


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