Medtronic doubling production of ventilators in response to coronavirus pandemic

Experts say ventilators will be in high demand as the COVID-19 outbreak ramps up. (FOX 9)

Medtronic says it is working to boost its production of ventilators as the breathing assistance devices become more in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ireland-based medical equipment maker, which has facilities in the Twin Cities, says it is moving to more than double its ability to make and supply ventilators.

Doctors fear, if the virus keeps spreading at high levels, they will run short on rooms and ventilators to treat patients suffering from the disease which can cause significant damage to lungs.

Medtronic says, in recent weeks, it has doubled its shifts to try and keep up with increased global demand for the life-saving devices.

“Medtronic recognizes the demand for ventilators in this environment has far outstripped supply,” writes Medtronic Executive Vice President Bob White. "No single company will be able to fill the current demands of global healthcare systems. However, with all manufacturers increasing their production and through partnerships with governments, hospitals and global health organizations, Medtronic is committed to getting more ventilators into the market and to the right locations in the world to help doctors and patients dealing with COVID-19.”

Officials hope mitigation attempts -- like banning large gatherings, closing restaurants, and other businesses, and encouraging people to stay inside -- will help slow the spread and "flatten the curve."

Last week, Minnesota state leaders said it would start tracking its ventilators supply. At the same time, federal leaders say they are working on the issue but President Trump urged states to start buying the devices on their own.

Twin Cities hospitals have about 450 ventilators, according to the Metro Health Preparedness Coalition.