Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Bill Gates explains why President Trump’s reaction to the coronavirus is so wrong

Published Mar 25th, 2020 1:41AM EDT
Coronavirus impact
Image: Ted S Warren/AP/Shutterstock

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

  • President Trump attempted to make his case on Tuesday that the economy needs and ought to be quickly started back up again and businesses reopened despite the coronavirus impact that’s still being felt around the country.
  • Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates attacked that impatience to bring an end to the nation’s COVID-19 coronavirus response, which has included a large number of quarantines and shelter-in-place orders around the country, in new remarks Tuesday during a TED Connects program.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

President Trump on Tuesday said during a Fox News town hall that he wants “packed churches” and to have “the country opened up” again by Easter, despite continued warnings from health officials that the US is nowhere near getting the growing coronavirus crisis under control.

And then there’s Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ reaction to that impatience from the president. Gates used stark, visceral language during a TED Connects program broadcast Tuesday to explain why Trump’s reaction is so misguided when it comes to the novel coronavirus — and how it’s also potentially deadly.

“It’s very tough to say to people, ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner, we want you to keep spending because there’s some politician that thinks GDP growth is what counts. It’s hard to tell people during an epidemic … that they should go about things knowing their activity is spreading this disease.”

Elsewhere during the discussion, Gates acknowledged his agreement with the president that shutting down big swaths of the country will be “disastrous” for the economy. It’s just that, given how deadly the COVID-19 virus is, “there really is no middle ground,” and he reiterated his belief that abiding by a shutdown of between six and 10 weeks should be enough to stamp out community spread of the virus long enough for the healthcare system to deal with the influx of infected patients.

That’s the same timeframe Gates gave in a recent Reddit AMA session, during which he urged people “to stay calm” even though “this is an unprecedented situation.” In his new remarks on Tuesday, Gates said the US missed its shot to avoid dealing with an economically calamitous shutdown and that the only way to get to the other side of this is to take our lumps and genuinely participate in a broad-based shutdown — not a series of half-measures in some locales, while others react strongly to the virus. We commit fully, and he thinks it will only take a little more than a month or so to start getting back on the road to normalcy.

“We did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the shutdown,” Gates said, adding one more note about the virus that was discovered at the end of 2019 in China and which US officials were already warning about at the beginning of this year:

“It’s January when everybody should’ve been on notice.”

He made those remarks on a day when the latest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US topped 55,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Also to-date in the US, almost 800 people have died from the virus.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

More Science