What is a ventilator and why is there a shortage?

Ventilators are machines that deliver breaths of oxygenated air to patients who are unable to breathe sufficiently on their own, while also removing carbon dioxide from their lungs. There are an estimated 160,000 ventilators in the US. That’s usually enough to serve everyone that needs one, but in the case of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a severe shortage. Companies including General Motors, Ford and Tesla are offering their help, but will that help come in time?

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