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US government ventilator stockpile not enough for coronavirus cases

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The United States government began amassing a reserve of ventilators more than 20 years ago, in preparation for a future, widespread attack on Americans. To date, the government has stockpiled 16,000 of them.

Though there hasn’t been a war on American soil, the spread of the coronavirus is an emergency of its own. And the government’s ventilator-reserve falls short of the number of devices needed to help sickened Americans, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity published Tuesday.

Reporters at the independent investigative outlet confirmed with a US Department of Health and Human Services employee that the US government has just 16,000 ventilators. The US medical system overall has a total of 160,000.

To date, more than 62,000 people in the United States have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Roughly 85% of sickened individuals show only “mild or moderate” symptoms, meaning most would not require hospitalization.

A projection from the American Hospital Association on COVID-19 cases, however, found that even if a small percentage of sickened Americans need ventilators, that population will exceed the number of available devices. “960,000 [sickened patients] would require ventilatory support,” a study forecasted, though that doesn’t mean they’ll all need ventilators simultaneously.

Still, the number of available ventilators in some regions is already too low. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that the state — the hardest-hit in the US — needs 30,000 more over the next two weeks to handle the projected cases.

andrew cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., March 24, 2020.

REUTERS/Mike Segar


The state may soon try the risky operation of attaching multiple people to a single ventilator, and companies like GM and Ford are starting to make their own ventilators to make up for the shortfall. But it’s not clear if that’ll be enough.

The government’s stockpile is not going to increase in the immediate future, according to Greg Burel, who oversaw the ventilator reserves until early this year.

“The reality is the stockpile could never have enough money to be the immediate fallback for everybody, and nobody does anything themselves,” Burel told the Center for Public Integrity.

Ventilators are crucial to treating patients with severe cases of COVID-19, as they ensure the lungs can continue to work.

“The coronavirus can destroy the small air sacs in the lungs, preventing them from passing oxygen to the blood — suffocating patients from the inside,” the Center for Public Integrity report said. “Ventilators take over for weak lungs, forcing air and oxygen into the body.”

They are also expensive, costing roughly $25,000 apiece. But many hospitals, especially in low-income and rural areas, are already under financial duress. No fewer than 30 hospitals went bankrupt last year, according to Bloomberg News. 

“Americans are fleeing rural areas in favor of urban centers, reducing the demand for hospital services in already struggling communities,” Bloomberg News reported. “In both cities and towns, many hospitals that care for impoverished citizens often rely heavily on government payments that reimburse less than private insurers and may fail to cover rising costs.”

Read the full report from the Center for Public Integrity.

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Goldman Sachs names new leaders to handle equity investments

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  • Goldman Sachs has named Bradley Gross, Stephanie Hui, Adrian Jones and Scott Lebovitz to lead a newly formed decision-making body responsible for overseeing the firm’s investments in private equity.
  • They replace Sumit Rajpal and Andrew Wolff, two execs who left in February after losing a power struggle with Julian Salisbury for control of the entire merchant banking division. 
  • In addition to private equity, Goldman also has teams doing private credit, infrastructure, real estate, and public equity investing.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Goldman Sachs has tapped four executives for a new leadership body that will oversee private-equity stakes taken on behalf of itself and clients, in effect naming the leaders of the private-equity part of its newly reconfigured alternative investing unit. 

Bradley Gross, Stephanie Hui, Adrian Jones, and Scott Lebovitz will make up a newly formed global equity leadership group, according to memo to employees sent on Thursday and signed by merchant banking chief Julian Salisbury. The new group will meet weekly to oversee overall investment processes, new investment sourcing activities and leadership development for other employees in the division. 

The merchant banking division also has teams doing private credit, infrastructure, real estate and public equity investing.

CEO David Solomon last year announced plans to merge five investing teams into a single alternative investing unit and pivot from a strategy of investing its own money to one investing on behalf of pensions and sovereign wealth funds.

The early months of the strategy was beset by doubts and internal rivalries, leading to the February exit of Sumit Rajpal and Andrew Wolff, who shared oversight of the division with Salisbury and were co-heads of the corporate equity business.  

The four execs named today effectively replace those two in running corporate equity.

They have already been serving on the MBD Corporate Equity Investment Committee, which is chaired by Rich Friedman and makes final decisions on what equity investments should be made and which should be skipped. 

Hui is also co-head of the growth equity business globally and co-head of the merchant banking division in Asia. Lebovitz helps run Goldman’s infrastructure investment activities. 

Here’s the full text of the memo:

We are pleased to announce the formation of the Global Equity Leadership Group for the Merchant Banking Division.  Focusing on our significant opportunities in corporate private equity, this leadership group will be responsible for driving our investment processes, enhancing our sourcing and value creation capabilities, and developing our investment teams around the world.

This new group will comprise of Bradley Gross, Stephanie Hui, Adrian Jones and Scott Lebovitz. They will add this important operational responsibility to their roles on various MBD investment committees, including the MBD Corporate Equity Investment Committee, which continues to oversee all investment decisions in corporate private equity, chaired by Rich Friedman.

  • Within the Global Equity Leadership Group, Brad will now lead our corporate private equity investment activities in the Americas and EMEA, extending his existing leadership roles in driving our Digital Edge transformation program and broader value enhancement initiatives across our portfolios.  He will continue to serve on the MBD Corporate Equity Investment Committee and MBD Growth Equity Investment Committee.
  • Stephanie will lead our corporate private equity investment activities in Asia, and will continue to serve as global co-head of our Growth Equity Business, and co-head of MBD in the region.  She will continue to serve on the MBD Corporate Equity Investment Committee and the MBD Growth Equity Investment Committee.
  • Adrian will extend his investment responsibilities as a member of the MBD Corporate Equity Investment Committee, by now joining the MBD Infrastructure Investment Committee and MBD Growth Equity Investment Committee.  He will also serve as chairman of the global equity business, with a special focus on driving deal sourcing across Goldman Sachs, fundraising, board leadership, mentoring deal teams, sustainability initiatives and identifying and leveraging synergies across our global equity portfolio.
  • Scott will continue to serve as global co-head of our MBD infrastructure investment programs, and as global head of our energy practice, in addition to his new operational responsibilities in corporate private equity.  He will continue to serve on the MBD Corporate Equity Investment Committee and the MBD Infrastructure Investment Committee.

The new Global Equity Leadership Group will meet weekly, and will work with all of you to help enhance our decision-making and continually improve our investment processes.  We are excited about this new leadership opportunity for Brad, Stephanie, Adrian and Scott, and wish them the very best as they work with all of you in delivering superior investment performance for our investors.

Julian Salisbury



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Saudi Arabia plowed $1 billion into Shell and other European oil producers

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Saudi Press Agency via AP

  • Saudi Arabia snapped up about $1 billion worth of stock in four European oil companies, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
  • The kingdom took advantage of the coronavirus sell-off and slump in oil prices to build stakes in Royal Dutch Shell, Equinor, Total, and Eni, the newspaper said.
  • Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, which recently took an 8.2% stake in cruise giant Carnival, made the purchases.
  • Shares in Shell, Equinor, Total, and Eni have all tumbled more than 30% since January.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Saudi Arabia bought about $1 billion worth of shares in four European oil producers in recent weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The world’s largest oil exporter capitalized on the coronavirus-fueled market meltdown and the crash in oil prices to build stakes in Royal Dutch Shell, Equinor, Total, and Eni, The Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Saudi’s $300 billion Public Investment Fund made the purchases, somewhat undermining its objective to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil. Its managers may be eager to tap into foreign income streams at bargain prices, especially as lower oil revenues and stimulus plans are set to widen the national budget deficit this year. The fund recently took an 8.2% stake in Carnival after coronavirus sunk the cruise giant’s stock.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global trade, forced factories to cut back or close, and led to widespread lockdowns intended to slow its spread, slashing demand for fuel. Saudi and Russia are also locked in an oil-price war after failing to agree on output cuts, meaning there’s a supply glut.

Shares in Anglo-Dutch behemoth Shell, Norwegian oil giant Equinor, French producer Total, and Italian rival Eni have all slumped more than 30% since January. Equinor’s stock was flat in early trading on Thursday, while the other three climbed about 1%.

Shell, Equinor, and Eni declined to comment to The Journal. Meanwhile, the Saudi Public Investment Fund and Total didn’t respond to a request for a comment from the newspaper.

Business Insider has reached out to all the involved parties but a comment was not immediately available.





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Chicago super-spreader shows the importance of social distancing

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  • A case study in Chicago demonstrated the importance of social distancing in containing the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The investigation, which was published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Chicago Department of Health, traced the cases from the first infected individual, identified as Patient A1.1, after they attended a funeral and birthday party.
  • The coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19, spread to at least 16 other people and killed three in the super-spreading event.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A super-spreading event in Chicago, Illinois, is emphasizing the importance of social distancing in containing the spread of the coronavirus, experts say.

A case study published Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chicago Department of Health illustrated the chain reaction of the coronavirus spread by investigating the super-spreader, identified as Patient A1.1.

The investigation, which spans 28 days, traced the subsequent cases from Patient A1.1, who had recently traveled out-of-state, as the virus spread to at least 16 other people and three died after attending a funeral and birthday party. The ages of those who contracted the virus ranged from 5 to 86, and the three deceased were all older than 60, according to the CDC report.

In February, Patient A1.1, who was experiencing mild symptoms at the time, went to a potluck dinner with two other people the evening before the aforementioned funeral, the deceased being a close family friend who died from non-coronavirus-related circumstances. The meal, which lasted three hours, also involved common serving dishes.

The next day, Patient A1.1 attended the funeral, offering condolences and hugging friends and family. Within a week of the event, both hosts of the dinner and one funeral attendee tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19.

The condition of one dinner host deteriorated enough to warrant hospitalization, when a family member visited without wearing any personal protective equipment. The family member later began to develop coronavirus symptoms, and the dinner host eventually died.

coronavirus driving roads chicago



Rebecca Harrington/Business Insider


Patient A1.1 infected at least seven people at a birthday party, two of whom died of the coronavirus

Meanwhile, Patient A1.1, who was still experiencing symptoms, attended a birthday party with nine people, which lasted about three hours. Seven attendees later were diagnosed with COVID-19.

One attendee who tested positive was eventually hospitalized and spread the virus to two other people who visited them in the hospital — and one visitor, in turn, infected another likely due to household contact. The party attendee later died of COVID-19.

Three symptomatic party attendees attended a 90-minute church service, infecting at least one person seated one pew in front of them. The incident of the infected church-goer came as Illinois banned gatherings of 50 or more people, more than two weeks since Patient A1.1 had infected the two dinner hosts.

Four days after the gatherings ban, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a state-wide stay-at-home order.

“Media reports suggest the chain of transmission described in Chicago is not unique within the United States,” the report stated. “Together with evidence emerging from around the world, these data shed light on transmission beyond household contacts, including the potential for super-spreading events.”

“Overall, these findings highlight the importance of adhering to current social distancing recommendations, including guidance to avoid any gatherings with persons from multiple households and following state or local stay-at-home orders.”

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