The New York state government paid an engineer $69 million for badly needed ventilators that never arrived after the engineer replied to a tweet by President Trump, BuzzFeed News reports. On March 27, Trump tweeted that General Motors needed to “START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!” Yaron Oren-Pines, a Silicon Valley mobile phone engineer with 75 followers, replied, “We can supply ICU ventilators, invasive and non-invasive. Have someone call me URGENT.” The White House coronavirus task force later recommended Oren-Pines directly to New York state officials, who paid him triple the normal price per ventilator due to unprecedented worldwide demand at the time. None of the machines ever materialized, and the state health department is attempting to recuperate its payment, the largest made under expedited coronavirus procurement processes.
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