In his address Friday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis addressed a desperate need for Intensive Care Unit beds and ventilators.

"We have about 900 ventilators in the state of Colorado. We need about 7,000. We have about 1,800 hospital beds ... we need about 5,000 ICU beds."

President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on Friday, ordering General Motors to begin manufacturing ventilators.

Trump said negotiations with General Motors had been productive, “but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course.”

Trump, who had previously been reluctant to use the act to force businesses to contribute to the coronavirus fight, said “GM was wasting time” and that his actions will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.

GM is among the farthest along of U.S. companies trying to repurpose factories to build ventilators. It is working with Ventec Life Systems, a small Seattle-area ventilator maker, to increase the company's production and GM will use its auto electronics plant in Kokomo, Indiana to make the machines.

Experts say that no matter how many ventilators companies can crank out, it may not be enough to cover the entire need, and it may not come in time to help areas now being hit hard with critical virus cases.

U.S. hospitals now have about 65,000 ventilators fully capable of treating severe coronavirus patients. They could cobble together about 170,000, including some simpler versions that won't work in all cases, said Dr. Lewis Rubinson, chief medical officer at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey and lead author of a 2010 medical journal article on the matter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Liz Henderson, 719-476-1623

Twitter: @GazetteLiz

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