One month ago, Chris Austin was running a little-known mom-and-pop business in Texas that fielded a few dozen orders a week for his helmet-style ventilation devices.He had five employees and a handful of volunteers from the family’s church who would pitch in at the workshop behind their home in the small town of Waxahachie.Then the coronavirus epidemic hit.Austin’s company, Sea-Long Medical Systems Inc., is getting thousands of orders every day, from America’s top hospitals to countries as far flung as the United Arab Emirates. Researchers say the device, which costs less than $200, could help hospitals free up ventilators for only the most critically ill coronavirus patients.”‘Overwhelmed’ doesn’t scratch the surface,” Austin told NBC News.Sea-Long Medical Systems helmets resemble crude spacesuit helmets, with transparent hoods sealed at the neck and two tubes extending from the base.Sea-Long Medical SystemsThe demand for the Sea-Long helmet underscores the dire shortage of ventilators in the U.S. and around the globe fueled by a surge in hospital patients suffering from COVID-19.In the last few weeks, hospitals have been flooded with patients experiencing respiratory problems so severe they need the help of a machine to help them breathe.Governors have made impassioned pleas for more equipment. Companies


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