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Automated Industrial Technologies takes stab at prototypes to help with ventilator shortage

A Forest-based engineering and manufacturing firm is working to create a prototype of a mass ventilator system it hopes could treat 50 patients at one time as the global fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, continues.

The prototype still is under development by Automated Industrial Technologies and would require U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, said Wes Payne, direct sales representative with AIT.

AIT, which manufactures industrial machinery and automation for customers in various industries, does not normally produce ventilators, Payne said.

“Our system could save thousands of lives if we can get it out. Typically it’s always been one ventilator per person and the country needs tens of thousands more,” he said.

Hospitals around the country have been seeking more ventilators as the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to rise in the coming weeks. Although most people who contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms, some become seriously ill and require hospitalization.

Some states have begun sharing ventilators to try to meet the need. For example, the Associated Press reported, Oregon and Washington have committed to sending ventilators to New York, which has been especially hard hit by the pandemic and has logged more than 6,200 deaths as of Thursday afternoon from COVID-19.

As of Thursday in Virginia, according to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, there were 285 patients who either have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are awaiting test results using a ventilator. Virginia has 2,734 ventilators available.

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