Pentagon signs $84M deal to buy 8,000 ventilators

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The Pentagon is on track to deliver 1,400 ventilators by early May as part of an $84.4 million deal signed over the weekend, according to the Defense Department.

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) will buy a total of 8,000 ventilators from four companies — Combat Medical Systems, Hamilton Medical, VyAire Medical and Zoll Medical Corp. — as the federal government scrambles to address a shortage of life-saving medical supplies in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This will be a time-phased delivery over the next several months and we expect orders to begin shipment within the next few days,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said in a statement. “Delivery locations will be determined by FEMA.”

State officials have called on the federal government for help as they face a dire shortage of masks and ventilators at hospitals across the country.

President Trump on Friday used the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to produce ventilators after days of hesitating to use the powers in the law.

The act, adopted in 1950 during the Korean War, grants broad authority to the president to mandate that private companies make products needed for infrastructure and national security. 

DLA has also provided more than $2 million in pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and 975,000 gallons of fuel for the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy hospital ships. The Comfort reached New York City on Monday while Mercy docked in Los Angeles last week. Both will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients, relieving local hospitals currently overwhelmed by coronavirus cases.

The illness has sickened more than 156,000 Americans and killed nearly 3,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In the military, there are at least 1,087 positive coronavirus cases, including 569 active-duty service members.

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