Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn is going to join the fight against the coronavirus by developing and manufacturing ventilators in the United States, a Wednesday report by Bloomberg and Reuters claims.
Foxconn has confirmed the news, although it has not said where it will make the medical equipment. According to Medtronic, Foxconn’s partner in the endeavor, they will be built in Foxconn’s controversial Wisconsin plant.
The ventilators could help increase the number of available units for treating severe cases of COVID-19. The virus, which can affect patients’ lungs, requires that they be given oxygen to assist with breathing.
Production of the ventilators will reportedly start within the next 4-6 weeks. Neither Foxconn nor Medtronic have announced quantities.
In China, Foxconn has been making protective face masks since February. In Japan, its subsidiary Sharp has also been manufacturing them since the end of March.
Foxconn was hit hard by the initial coronavirus outbreak in China. Its factories there seem to be back up and running as normal, however. The company has taken multiple active steps to counter the spread of the contagion.
Foxconn’s ventilator project
Foxconn’s Wisconsin plant is controversial because of the shifting nature of the project over the years. Foxconn announced the plant in 2017. At the time, it promised to spend $10 billion on the plant and bring 13,000 jobs to the state. But it has continually scaled back its plans ever since.
Intended to manufacture display panels, Foxconn missed its first-year hiring target significantly. It ended 2018 with 178 full-time employees.
Foxconn is not the only company stepping up to the plate during the pandemic. For instance, Ford has said that it will produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days at a plant in Michigan. This is in cooperation with General Electric’s healthcare unit. It then aims to build 30,000 units per month as required. Tesla is also building ventilators from car parts.