Mike Rowe: Coronavirus is an unprecedented chance for capitalism to 'step up'

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TV host and author Mike Rowe said on “Fox & Friends” on Monday that the coronavirus outbreak “is a chance, unlike anything I've ever seen, for corporate America to step up and do what the government simply can't do.”

Rowe made the comments after several companies, including General Motors and two partners, have combined their efforts to build more ventilation systems for hospitals during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the auto company announced Friday.

GM, Ventec Life Systems and StopTheSpread.org, a coordinated private-sector response to COVID-19, are collaborating so that Ventec can increase its production of respiratory care products as hospitals across the U.S. face a potential ventilator shortage.


SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his companies are working on building ventilators as well.

"Yes, we’re working on ventilators, even though I think they probably won’t be needed," Musk tweeted on Friday in response to a user asking him if the same engineers and facilities used for Tesla's Model X and Model S HEPA filters could be used for ventilators.

On Saturday, President Trump said that Hanes clothing company will be "retrofitting" its means of production to help supply much-needed medical face masks, which have been at the center of the coronavirus response effort.

Trump also said some distilleries around the country have decided to switch to producing a different type of product — hand sanitizer.

On Monday, Rowe noted that coronavirus is going to show “what capitalism is really all about.”

“We have these big conversations about the direction the country is headed and what direction the country ought to be headed,” he said.

He then explained why he thinks the current situation is a “chance for corporate America to step up and do what the government simply can't do.”

“Obviously government has a primary role in this, but I don't think they can do it alone and I'm actually really heartened,” he said, referencing several companies including 3M, which produces respirator masks for consumers, and General Motors, which have stepped up efforts to help during the coronavirus crisis.

3M has doubled its production of N95 respirator masks since the coronavirus outbreak to a rate of nearly 100 million a month, Street Insider reported.


Rowe also referenced the smaller companies “who have completely retooled and retrofitted.”

“I'm looking at these distilleries who are now making hand sanitizer,” he said. “It's big and it's small, it's micro, it's macro, it's everybody doing what they can, in a way that I think could ultimately make about the most compelling case for capitalism that we've seen in our lifetime.”

Fox Business’ Audrey Conklin and Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia and Charles Creitz contributed to this report.