Make no mistake about it: the world is mobilizing (or immobilizing) to deal with and manage the spread of the new coronavirus.
Cities and countries are going on lockdowns and quarantines, businesses are closing temporarily, factories are shutting down, air travel is taking a huge hit, and people are generally staying away from each other. These are all measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic and buy the healthcare systems of each country some time and prevent them from getting overwhelmed.
Even the now-stalled global auto industry is moving to shift their manufacturing to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect front liners and much-needed ventilators for patients, especially with U.S. automakers as the number of cases, surged. But instead of messages of support from President of the United States, Donald Trump, what they got was a digital crack of a whip.
President Trump, now embattled after American COVID-19 confirmed cases surpassed China's official numbers, took to Twitter to make public his orders to (and criticisms of) General Motors and Ford, and with a lot of caps.
General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!! @GeneralMotors @Ford— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
GM, for its part, is already coordinating with Ventec Life Systems to build ventilators at their factory in Indiana. Ventilators are used by hospitals to aid patients that are having extreme trouble breathing; it's a critical piece of equipment given how COVID-19 attacks the lungs. The two companies are targeting to produce 10,000 or more ventilators per month.
As usual with “this” General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, “very quickly”. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke “P”.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
Trump further attacked Mary Barra, the Chairman and CEO of General Motors, over Twitter. The reason is that GM supposedly wants "top dollar" for the ventilators. Trump slammed her by saying that it's “always a mess with Mary B.”
Ford, on the other hand, is already working with GE Healthcare to scale up their ventilator production. The Blue Oval also announced that they were using their 3D printing equipment to manufacture a variety of PPEs such as face shields. The company even released the rough schematic of a respirator that cleverly uses parts such as car seat cooling fans, power tool rechargeable batteries, and 3M HEPA filters. These respirators will be used to protect front liners from infection.
Trump also invoked a law that dates back to the 1950s which gives the executive branch the ability to dictate production towards national defense, otherwise known as the Defense Production Act. The effects of such a law were last seen during the Korean War to mobilize and ramp up their industries. In World War II (which, interestingly enough, predates the law), American industries and automakers shifted their production for military equipment such as tanks, bombs, and planes.
In terms of officially-declared numbers, the U.S. has overtaken China as the country with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases with 104,000+ versus China's 81,000+. The United States was one of the last countries to start implementing serious quarantines, lockdowns, closures, and social distancing. China was aggressive with its lockdown to attempt to contain the virus, but still, it got out.
The Philippines, despite its proximity to China and the frequency of air travel between the two nations before the Enhanced Community Quarantine, has 803 confirmed cases based on the last numbers released by the Department of Health. The number is still growing (albeit not exponentially) as more people are tested and as results begin to come in.