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After calling coronavirus panic ‘dumb,’ Elon Musk now says it’s harmful in leaked memo

Published Mar 17th, 2020 9:10PM EDT
Coronavirus Panic Tesla
Image: Ena/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks the coronavirus panic is more harmful than the virus itself.
  • In a newly leaked memo to employees, Musk said that employees can opt to stay home if they’re slightly ill or uncomfortable at the prospect of contracting the virus.
  • Tesla’s Fremont factory will remain open as it has been deemed an “essential business.”
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

As the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, a number of high-profile companies, from Apple to Nike, recently decided to close the majority of their stores to help limit the virus from spreading even further. What’s more, a number of major U.S. cities have enacted bans which essentially prevent bars, restaurants, and a number of other public establishments, from operating in any capacity. Without question, the coronavirus has impacted and will continue to impact the way most people go about their day-to-day lives. And underscoring the severity of the virus, it’s worth noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic six days ago.

As the entire world continues to worry about the coronavirus, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, interestingly enough, remains convinced that the worldwide response to the coronavirus is a bit over the top.

“The coronavirus panic is dumb,” Musk tweeted on March 6. Predictably, Musk’s callousness drew no shortage of criticism from medical professionals and the public at large.

A little more than a week later, it doesn’t seem as if Musk is taking the coronavirus that much more seriously.

In an email Musk recently sent out to all Tesla employees, and obtained by Electrek, Musk said that too many medical resources are being diverted towards battling the epidemic and that the panic resulting from the virus is actually far more detrimental than the virus itself.

All the same, Musk told Tesla employees that they do not have to come into work if they’re the “slightest bit ill” or uncomfortable with the idea of going to work.

Musk’s email reads in part:

A lot of rumors are flying around, but, to the best of our knowledge, no one at Tesla (over 56,000 people) has tested positive for COVID-19. I will inform you immediately if anything changes.

My frank opinion remains that the harm from the coronavirus panic far exceeds that of the virus itself. If there is a massive redirection of medical resources out of proportion to the danger, it will result in less available care to those with critical medical needs, which does not serve the greater good.

My best guess, for what it is worth, based on the latest Center for Disease Control data, is that confirmed COVID-19 (this specific form of the common cold) cases will not exceed 0.1% of the US population.

Incidentally, it remains unclear if employees who opt to stay home will be paid. Musk, meanwhile, made a point of telling employees that he himself will be going to work.

On a related note, Tesla’s Fremont factory — which boasts approximately 10,000 employees — will remain operational for the time being given that Alameda county declared Tesla to be an “essential’ business.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.