Report: Elon Musk Not Concerned About Coronavirus Threat

Musk's comments reportedly came via an email to SpaceX employees

Elon Musk
Elon Musk is, apparently, not that fazed by the coronavirus.
JD Lasica/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / March 16, 2020 6:01 am

Over the course of the last week, numerous headlines have shown growing levels of concern over coronavirus and its effects from both the private and public sectors. Companies have changed policies, expanded paid sick leave and explored telecommuting options to reduce the risk of infection. But a new report from The Verge suggests that at least one prominent corporate head isn’t as worried about the threat of this pandemic.

Did you think, “That sounds like Elon Musk?” If so, you are correct. The Verge is reporting that Musk sent an email to SpaceX staff that echoed the sentiments of a tweet he posted earlier in the month regarding the public’s response to coronavirus.

Musk may want to file this one under “Tweets that have not aged well.” But the SpaceX email sounds like it was no less tone-deaf:

Musk’s email, sent earlier today, told employees of the space transport company that they were far more likely to die from a car crash than COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He also said that, based on the evidence he had seen about COVID-19, he doesn’t think it’s “within the top 100 health risks in the United States.”

This is a potentially dangerous attitude to have at a time when the phrase “flatten the curve” has entered the general lexicon. Musk’s take on coronavirus has also prompted a few satirical responses, including Jalopnik running an article suggesting that Tesla employees could be working from home assembling cars.

A glimpse at Musk’s Twitter feed offers another recent post that might allude to coronavirus — or which might suggest he’s been getting really into Frank Herbert’s Dune:

It’s a bizarre case of being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian, and by treating a pandemic as no big deal, it has the potential to do real harm.

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