While many are quick to blame the current administration for the ventilator shortage in the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic, government agencies have been raising alarms about the need to increase our stockpile for decades.

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The Pentagon will spend $84.4 million to purchase 8,000 ventilators from four vendors, according to a contract signed over the weekend, with the first deliveries slated to happen in May.

The Defense Department said the companies tapped to produce the much-needed equipment are Combat Medical Systems, Hamilton Medical, VyAire Medical and Zoll Medical Corp.

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“This will be a time-phased delivery over the next several months and we expect orders to begin shipment within the next few days, with 1,400 being delivered by early May,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said. “Delivery locations will be determined by FEMA.”

The Defense Logistics Agency modified existing contracts with the four companies to purchase the ventilators, Andrews said.

On Friday, President Trump used the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to produce ventilators after talks between the auto giant and the government stalled. Many hospitals across the country face shortages of critical medical equipment, including ventilators as the number of COVID-19 patients increases daily.

The DLA said it has also provided $2 million in pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, 975,000 gallons of fuel and food and repair parts to two Navy hospital ships — the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy.

This undated photo provided by Vyaire Medical, Inc. shows a VELA ventilator. U.S. hospitals bracing for a possible onslaught of coronavirus patients with pneumonia and other breathing difficulties could face a critical shortage of mechanical ventilators and health care workers to operate them. (Ken Hansen/Vyaire Medical, Inc. via AP) 

The Mercy is docked in Los Angeles and the Comfort is in New York. Both are treating non-coronavirus patients in an effort to relieve the strain in local hospitals combating the crisis.

Nationwide, 153,246 have contracted the illness, including nearly 3,000 deaths.

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