General Motors in Kokomo manufacturing ventilators among several new efforts against COVID-19

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KOKOMO, Ind. – General Motors and Ventec Life Systems officially announced their partnership to manufacture critical care ventilators at the GM plant in Kokomo. In merely one month, GM anticipates these ventilators will be shipped out to hospitals.

GM is bringing 1,000 paid employees to the plant to help with production. A spokesperson for the company said they will hire any current GM employees in Kokomo, then extend the opportunity to Marion plant employees and finally hire the rest from an application pool. If you would like to apply, visit search-careers.gm.com.

“Obviously their trust not only in those facilities, but their faith in the local workforce just speaks volumes for what we’re able to do and take part in,” Mayor Tyler Moore of Kokomo said.

Depending on the needs of the federal government, GM claims the plant will be able to produce up to more than 10,000 ventilators per month, with the infrastructure and capability to scale more.

“Just really pleased to see a meaningful use of those facilities now,” Moore commented.

In another effort to make ventilators, Purdue graduate Tyler Mantel and his start-up The Ventilator Project is working to produce low-cost lifesaving machines. Jake Thieneman, former Purdue safety and safety for the San Francisco 49ers, is involved in this effort and helping to spread the word.

“What Tyler Mantel and the ventilator project is doing is they’re designing a cheap, functional ventilator that serves the need of the COVID victims that they can easily manufacture within the next 30 days,” Thieneman explained.

Theineman said the ventilators will give hospitals another option for a machine which typically costs tens of thousands of dollars.

“Current ventilators cost between $35,000 and $50,000,” Thieneman said. “That’s a lot of money for smaller hospital chains to just come up with.”

Thieneman explained The Ventilator Project launched merely one week ago. They are working to spread the word and generate more support.

Even Indiana’s department of corrections is getting involved. During Friday’s news conference with the governor, Commissioner Robert Carter explained how the people in the state’s prisons are working to make protective gear like face masks, face shields, and hospital gowns.

“They’re very high quality, very proud of the guys for coming up with this,” Carter said.

Carter said they are able to manufacture 200 gowns a day, and beginning Monday, they will be able to make 200 masks each day as well.

“This is the polypropylene material we’re going to use to make the masks,” Carter said while showing off the material. “This is hospital grade, by a company called Mayer Fabrics out of Indianapolis, it’s an Indiana company.”

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