Solar Tribune

Musk Steps Up to the Plate Amid Coronavirus Crisis


The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis, the likes of which the nation has never experienced before. Elon Musk is among an array of influential business leaders who are using their platform and business acumen to get critical healthcare equipment in the hands of frontline healthcare workers.

By now, all Americans are well-acquainted with the scope and severity of the global pandemic that is the Coronavirus. What once seemed like an issue primarily isolated to far off lands has since come to America’s shores and entrenched itself in every U.S. state. As of the writing of this article, the United States has over 148,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases and over 2,600 virus-related deaths. No country in the world has more confirmed cases. Government-mandated “shelter-in-place” orders and outright community lockdowns at the local and state level have disrupted seemingly every aspect of American life. The exponential growth in cases in some of the hardest-hit communities – like New York City – has strained healthcare capacity and led to worrying concerns over shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators.

In the midst of the chaos, many leading U.S. manufacturers have stepped up to donate critical healthcare items and equipment. In some cases, companies have repurposed existing manufacturing facilities to manufacture things like ventilators in order to help meet the explosive demand for this life saving equipment.

Elon Musk, is one such business leader who has put their skills and influence to good use in an effort to help healthcare facilities stock up on ventilators and PPE. In early March, however, Musk – like many Americans – didn’t yet realize the gravity of the Coronavirus situation or the enormity of the public health crisis that would soon present itself in the United States. In a March 6th tweet, Musk quipped that “the coronavirus panic is dumb.” Two days later, Musk described the fatality rate from the disease as being “greatly overstated.” By the end of the month, Musk had done a complete 180 and pledged to use his business chops and engineering expertise to do everything he could to help the country battle the Coronavirus.

March 18 & 19:

  • In an odd reminder of the power of Twitter, Musk promised in a Twitter exchange with Fivethirtyeight’s Nate Silver and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio that Tesla would welcome the opportunity to manufacture ventilators for New York if a shortage of existing ones became imminent.

March 22:

March 23:

March 25:

  • Musk announced that Tesla’s factory in Buffalo, New York would be retooled to produce ventilators “as soon as humanly possible.” The facility was previously forced to shut down following its designation as a “nonessential” business that was impacted by the statewide shutdown. Musk stated further that Tesla “will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”

March 27:

  • Musk donated hundreds of ventilators to the state of New York that would eventually find their way to hospitals in New York City and throughout the state. Mayor of NYC Bill de Blasio expressed his appreciation for Musk on Twitter:

The United States is facing an unprecedented public health crisis that will require both a coordinated government response and a commitment among the public to heed the CDC’s “social distancing” guidance. The generosity of influential business leaders like Elon Musk, however, is a major differentiating factor that the country has at its disposal compared to other countries battling the invisible Coronavirus enemy. While the Coronavirus has all but halted Tesla’s whole business, Elon Musk has embraced a philanthropic mindset as he helps get critical healthcare equipment in the hands of the healthcare workers that need it most. Musk may have been a skeptic initially, but his renewed commitment to leading by example in a time of crisis is admirable. Hopefully his leadership inspires other business leaders to follow suit. Keep up the good work, Elon!


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