Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk offered to manufacture breathing machines to help combat the coronavirus epidemic on Wednesday.
The Space X CEO offered to construct ventilators in a tweet, which was quickly responded to by Nate Silver, the editor in chief of fivethirtyeight.com, asking how many ventilators he planned to construct.
On Thursday, Musk said that they were not easy to construct but that it was doable before asking which states were most in need of them.
Tesla makes cars with sophisticated hvac systems. SpaceX makes spacecraft with life support systems. Ventilators are not difficult, but cannot be produced instantly. Which hospitals have these shortages you speak of right now?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
The tweet caught the eyes of prominent online users, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who reached out directly to Musk.
Sounds good, we will connect with your team to understand potential needs— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 19, 2020
Others were more cynical of the offer, however, seeing it as opportunistic and insincere.
Musk has tweeted frequently about COVID-19, urging for calm as he has warned that the panic may have consequences that are more deadly than the virus itself, which has so far killed 9,800 people worldwide and infected at least 235,000.
The construction of ventilators would not be the first time that the Tesla CEO has responded to a problem of international importance.
In 2018, SpaceX, Tesla and The Boring Co. constructed a miniature submarine to help rescue a youth soccer team trapped inside a flooded Thailand cave.
Rescuers, however, retrieved the kids and their coach by swimming through the cave with SCUBA gear instead of using the sub.