By Adam Bednar
April 22, 2020
Democrats representing Maryland in Congress are urging President Donald Trump and General Motors to reopen a shuttered plant in White Marsh to manufacture ventilators needed to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the letters signed April 21, and addressed to Trump and GM CEO Mary Barra, seven members of the House of Representatives and both Maryland senators, pushed GM to use the facility in fulfilling a recent contract to produce 30,000 ventilators awarded under the Defense Production Act.
The request from Maryland lawmakers follows on the heels of a similar appeal made by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. The county executive also contacted the county’s federal lawmakers, calling on them to advocate for using the former GM plant to manufacture ventilators.
A spokesman for Olszewski said Wednesday that the Trump administration did not respond to the county executive’s letter.
In their letters to Trump and Barra, lawmakers contended that reopening the plant to make ventilators makes sense in terms of logistics and geography. Prior to its closure the White Marsh plant “employed hundreds of workers producing complex machinery.”
Ventilators remain among the most needed medical equipment as the number of sick in Maryland and across the state swells. Since the first three cases of COVID-19 in Maryland were recorded in early March 14,774 residents have contracted the illness, and 631 people have died.
Van Hollen estimated the nation will need at least 1 million ventilators to get through the crisis. The nation, he said, continues to face a shortage of personal protective equipment and tests for the virus.
Ramping up the testing, Sen. Ben Cardin said, is the key to loosening “stay at home” orders that have hurt businesses. The nation’s still a long way from getting to that point, Cardin said on April 21 during a Greater Baltimore Committee webinar.
“If you want to get back to some sense of normalcy we have to dramatically increase our testing,” Cardin said. “Right now we are woefully behind, nationally, when it comes to our testing capacity.”
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Source: The Daily Record