Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk was accused of not delivering promised ventilators to hospitals across California by CNN and state officials Thursday, prompting Musk to provide clear evidence that hospitals received them over a week ago.
Musk’s ventilator donation questioned
Early Thursday, CNN released an article in which a spokesman for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) claimed that 1,255 ventilators promised by Musk in March had not been distributed yet in the midst of California hitting peak coronavirus numbers.
“Elon Musk and his team told the state that he had procured ventilators and wanted to distribute them directly to hospitals with shortages,” said the OES spokesman to CNN. “The Administration is communicating every day with hospitals across the state about their ventilator supply and to date we have not heard of any hospital system that has received a ventilator directly from Tesla or Musk.”
Musk responds with staggering amounts of proof
Musk himself immediately responded that the claim was a misunderstanding and called on Governor Gavin Newsom to “please fix this misunderstanding.” Musk also showed surprise at CNN, tweeting that he was surprised that “CNN still exists.”
Musk proceeded to provide lists of hospitals in New York, New Jersey, California, and other states that received ventilators he donated.
Partial list of hospitals to which Tesla sent ventilators pic.twitter.com/sfI6yuUbrM
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 16, 2020
Tusk also subsequently provided receipts, e-mail confirmations, and photos of Tesla sponsored ventilators being received by hospital officials.
An email between Tesla officials and Los Angeles County Health Services’ Director of System Operations and Support Services Phillip Franks showed that ventilators were in California hospitals as early as late March.
“They worked great during testing today,” said Franks in a March 27 e-mail. “We will put these to use tomorrow! Thanks!”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 16, 2020
Another e-mail from a Mammoth Lakes health official noted that Tusk’s donation would “give us a fighting chance.” A tweet from Martin Luther King Community Hospital in Los Angeles even showed the Tesla emblazoned ventilators arriving on April 9th.
— MLKCH (@yourMLKCH) April 9, 2020
CNN responds back
As Musk and Tesla proceed to tweet and send more receipts and evidence, CNN Vice President of Communications Matt Dornic proceeded to sift the blame to the OES while also pointing out that Tesla returned any calls made by CNN for comment.
“Weird to attack CNN for what the CA governor’s office said – especially when your own spokespeople at Tesla didn’t respond to requests for comment,” said Dornic in a tweet. “Seems like your outrage should, uh, be directed at the entity that made the claim, not the one that reported it. U new to this?”
Weird to attack CNN for what the CA governor’s office said – especially when your own spokespeople at Tesla didn’t respond to requests for comment. Seems like your outrage should, uh, be directed at the entity that made the claim, not the one that reported it. U new to this?
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) April 16, 2020
With Musk continuing to show contrary evidence, CNN shifting blame and not apologizing as of Thursday, and the OES not yet contracting the statement made to CNN, healthcare officials caught in the crossfire simply want to do their job. The California Globe directly reached out to a physician at one of the beneficiary hospitals about what was going on at the hospital level.
Healthcare workers only care about getting the masks, not the surrounding drama
“We got the ventilators from them over a week ago,” noted Dr. Ben Mu, a healthcare expert who is also helping test potential COVID-19 coronavirus patients. “[The Office of] Emergency Services had no right to say that, and CNN had no right to make a story like that without checking around. If they called here we could have told them they’re currently being used.”
“Tesla is also at fault for not responding, but that’s their right too. It’s not irresponsible like, say, reporting something unsubstantiated.”
“Honestly though, this argument means nothing to us. A Musk and CNN and government fight of ‘he said, she said’ is nothing compared to simply getting the ventilators. We just need the damn things, not this drama. That’s all that matter right now to us. That we have them and that they’re saving lives.”
Ventilators have been in higher demand in California in recent weeks because of a climb in overall coronavirus cases and a temporary crunch in available ventilators after Governor Newsom loaned 500 ventilators to New York earlier this month.
As of Thursday neither CNN or the OES has given an apology or retraction of the Musk story.
26,182 confirmed positive tests of coronavirus have been recorded in California to date, 1,191 in ICU, and 890 announced deaths according to the California Department of Public Health.
Note: On April 17th, CNN reported that some of the ventilators hospitals received were actually bilevel positive airway pressure (biPAP) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. These are not full ventilators, but have nonetheless assisted hospitals in helping patients and helping free up ventilator usage for those with coronavirus.
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