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Investor David Tepper says the US needs to do ‘whatever it takes’ to mass produce ventilators now

Billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper said Monday that President Donald Trump must order U.S. industrial companies like General Motors to start mass producing ventilators if he wants to get the economy on a path to restarting again.

That way, Tepper said, people already sick from coronavirus can get help and healthy people can feel confident they will get the care they need if they do fall ill. 

“We have to get the medical piece right, too, you know get the equipment, the ventilators mass produced,” the founder of Appaloosa Management told CNBC’s Scott Wapner in a “Halftime Report” interview. “Whatever it takes to get produced that’s what they should do. That’s the first step.”

The fast-spreading coronavirus has sent shock waves throughout the globe, creating unprecedented financial and societal disruption. Confirmed infections of the  coronavirus surpassed 350,000 worldwide on Monday and global deaths rose past 15,000, as COVID-19 spreads across Europe and North America.

“If I get sick or you get sick, I want to know that I can go to the hospital — listen, I’m over 60 years old so I guess I’m a high risk category — I want to know if I can go to the hospital, or anybody that’s 60, friends, whatever, to go to the hospital and know that they can get served with ventilators and such sort of equipment.”

California and New York are among the hot spots for the virus. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday issued an emergency order directing hospitals to increase their capacity by 50% as coronavirus cases across the state surged 38% overnight to 20,875. New York City, alone, accounts for 12,305 confirmed infections, he said.

“If we can get ventilators and masks and such to New York and California right now and relieve some of that stress, that will also be a very important step so we can get out of this lockdown mode,” Tepper said. 

Tepper said he would like to be told by General Motors CEO Mary Barra when the ventilators are coming off of the factory lines. 

“I’d like to hear Mary Barra and GM tell me when the ventilators are coming off the line,” said Tepper. “First, we got to get the equipment so that people don’t die. Show me the ventilators rolling off the factory floor.” 

Tepper said if he were president he would be using the war powers act to get some of this equipment made. 

“Spend the money! Get it done! Because that’s much more money … spent. [It] will be cost the economy not to have it done,” he said. 

Tepper also said he is “nibbling” at some stocks, particularly in the tech sector, as the broader market tumbles. However, he noted the relentless selling may continue.

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