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GM’s Mary Barra Offers To Build Ventilators For Coronavirus Patients At Idled Auto Plants – Forbes

Rosie the Ventilator Maker? General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO reportedly suggested to top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow, the automaker could build hospital ventilators while its plants are idled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on Fox News Wednesday, Kudlow said he spoke with executives from two of the three Detroit-based automakers, then apparently alluded to Barra when he explained, “one of them told me even while the men and women may be off for two weeks due to the virus she’s gonna try to call them back so they can produce ventilators and they might even ask them to do it on a voluntary basis for civic and patriotic reasons.” 

GM spokesman Pat Morrissey confirmed to Forbes that Kudlow was referring to Barra explaining, “still very early, but she did tell the administration it was something we were exploring….still very early in the process, but she indicated we could help, and we were beginning to look into it.” 

Such a move would hark back to the days of World War II when auto plants were pressed into duty to build military vehicles and other equipment. Detroit became known as the “Arsenal of Democracy,” a slogan coined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a radio address promising to provide military supplies to the Allies fighting Nazi Germany, before the U.S. actually entered the war. 

The character of Rosie the Riveter personified the women who worked in U.S. factories and shipyards producing war supplies. Earlier Wednesday Pres. Donald Trump characterized himself as a “wartime President” in the battle against the coronavirus.

GM, Ford Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota all said they are temporarily shutting down their U.S. plants for varying periods of time. GM’s plants will be down through March 30, possibly making them temporarily available for production of hospital ventilators needed to treat patients with acute cases of COVID-19, the condition caused by the coronavirus. 

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