Hospital doctors being instructed to handle a ventilator. Photo: Axel Heimken/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Prisma Health, the largest nonprofit health group in South Carolina, announced Wednesday that it's developed a device that will enable one ventilator to support up to four patients being treated for the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Ventilators are critical in helping patients in the most severe cases of COVID-19 to breathe. But they're in short supply as demand grows, with the number of coronavirus cases increasing as U.S. testing capacity expands. The virus had killed more than 1,000 people and infected 69,000 others in the U.S. by late Wednesday.

Details: The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for the Prisma Health 3D-printed device, called the VESper, which the firm said in a statement was developed with "material already in use for medical devices and produced at minimal cost."

What they're saying: Peter Tilkemeier, chair of medicine at Prisma Health-Upstate, said rapid rises in patients requiring machine-assisted breathing can cause an "acute shortage" of necessary equipment overnight.

  • The VESper "can be lifesaving when the number of critically ill patients requiring breathing support is greater than the number of available ventilators," he added. "A number of U.S. hospitals are likely to begin experiencing this with COVID-19."

Go deeper: American manufacturing vs. the coronavirus

Editor’s note: The headline has been corrected to reflect that Prisma Health created a ventilator expansion device (not a new ventilator).

Go deeper

Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 31,175,205 — Total deaths: 962,076— Total recoveries: 21,294,229Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 6,829,956 — Total deaths: 199,690 — Total recoveries: 2,590,695 — Total tests: 95,121,596Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

McConnell: Senate has "more than sufficient time" to process Supreme Court nomination

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a floor speech Monday that the chamber has "more than sufficient time" to confirm a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, and accused Democrats of preparing "an even more appalling sequel" to the fight over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Why it matters: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said "nothing is off the table next year" if Republicans push ahead with the confirmation vote before November, vowing alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to use "every procedural tool available to us to ensure that we buy ourselves the time necessary."

House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Democrats on Monday released their proposal for short-term legislation to fund the government through December 11.

Why it matters: This is Congress' chief legislative focus before the election. They must pass a continuing resolution (CR) before midnight on Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown — something both Hill leaders and the White House have claimed is off the table.