While governors, mayors and hospital officials conduct much-publicized, life-and-death struggles to acquire ventilators, for most COVID-19 patients the oxygen-providing apparatus will merely serve as a bridge from life to death.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently estimated that only 20% of coronavirus patients placed on ventilators “will ever come off.” Dennis Carroll, who led the U.S. Agency for International Development’s infectious disease unit for more than a decade, told USA TODAY perhaps one-third of COVID-19 patients on ventilators survive. 

But for many, ventilators represent their last chance.

“If you were one of the one-third, I suspect you’d be very appreciative that that capability was available,” Carroll said.

Ventilators won’t fix the ailments that put patients on them, but they can provide support until other treatments work or the patient’s body overcomes the disease. And physicians are determined to use the

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