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Elon Musk plans to reopen New York gigafactory to produce ventilators

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday that the company’s New York-based gigafactory plans to reopen in order to produce ventilators to combat the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.

“Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible,” Musk tweeted. “We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”

It wasn’t immediately clear when the factory would reopen or when ventilators would be ready. New York, one of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak, is in desperate need of ventilators to prepare for a coming surge in cases, officials said.

Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak said on CNBC that the medical device company would look to partner with Tesla to provide ventilators

This is also not the first time the CEO has said he plans to donate ventilators, according to TechCrunch. His prior statements, too, lacked a timeline of when Tesla would contribute to the ongoing pandemic by donating essential medical equipment. 

Wednesday’s offer from Musk marks a recent change in tone about the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to investors last week, Tesla said two of its factories, one in Buffalo, New York, and another located in Fremont, California, would suspend production “except for those parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure, and critical supply chains.” Tesla also said it would continue “touchless deliveries.”

But earlier in March, Musk tweeted, “The coronavirus panic is dumb.” He has also been criticized for downplaying the severity of the pandemic. He previously said children were “immune” to the coronavirus, which has proved to be false.

On Thursday, Tesla reportedly announced in an internal email that two of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stands in front of the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck

The company is also not the first automaker to pledge support during the spread of the coronavirus. Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles all released plans to contribute ventilators to medical institutions and personnel on the front lines of fighting the pandemic, while extending vehicle production shutdowns through April

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