By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump announced a loan program on Tuesday with the aim of making as many as 60,000 ventilators available to help coronavirus patients.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, the need for ventilators has skyrocketed to aid patients struggling to breathe. Trump and his coronavirus task force have fought to find enough of the machines to help people survive.

Trump met healthcare executives to discuss what the White House called the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve plan.

It is a public-private partnership in which major healthcare systems will agree to supply unused ventilators to make sure there is a steady supply of the machines in virus hot spots, the official said.

“We’re preparing ventilator capacity for any and all scenarios. Initiatives like the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve will help us to achieve that goal. We need ventilators but now we’re pretty well stocked,” he said.

Trump said private industry will produce more than 32,000 ventilators by the end of May and 150,000 by the end of the year. The United States might be able to help appeals for the machines from Italy, France and Spain, he said.

The White House found that as many as 60,000 ventilators in hospitals across the country were not being used and contacted the American Hospital Association and major healthcare suppliers to come up with a lending program “so that those that are not in use can be moved over to hospitals when they need them,” a senior administration official said.

In order to gain access to the supply, a healthcare provider must agree to donate ventilators when a hospital in a hot zone needs them, the official said.

The official said 20 health systems have already agreed to participate and under the program at this point 4,000 ventilators will be made available.

Representatives from the American Hospital Association and a variety of healthcare company chief executives were on hand for the White House event.

“President Trump worked with governors to make sure that every American who needed a ventilator received a ventilator, and this historic public-private program ensures that will continue to be the case,” said White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, one of the architects of the plan.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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