Vice President Mike Pence visited General Motors‘ ventilator production plant in Kokomo, Indiana this week, touring the facility alongside GM CEO Mary Barra, Ventec CEO Chris Kiple, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
In addition to touring the facility and thanking workers for their efforts in manufacturing the Ventec-brand ventilators, Pence engaged in a roundtable discussion with team members from GM and Ventec. President Donald Trump put Mike Pence in charge in the United States’ COVID-19 response efforts when the outbreak first began in February.
“We are incredibly grateful to our team and everyone who has supported this lifesaving work and we appreciate the support and encouragement of Vice President Pence, Gov. Holcomb and Secretary Chao,” Barra said in a statement on Thursday.
GM began making the Ventec ventilators after receiving a $490 million government contract to do so in March. The automaker has now shipped out more than 600 V+ Pro critical care ventilators at the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and has the capacity to produce up to 30,000 of the machines by late August.
Ventilators have been in short supply amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the virus attacking the lungs and causing breathing difficulties in many patients. GM’s efforts will not only help hospitals get the ventilator machines they need, but will also help stock the federal emergency reserve of medical supplies with ventilator machines should they be needed in the future.
“Under the leadership of the administration and in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, this partnership ensures access to life support ventilators,” Kiple said. “Our combined team will continue working to support frontline medical heroes risking their health to save lives.”
Pence said workers at the Kokomo plant, which is typically an automotive electronics production facility, are “hereoes” helping to save lives “all across America.”
“We are so proud of each and every one of you,” the vice president added.