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Elon Musk keeps downplaying the severity of coronavirus, and hedged his promise to produce ventilators for hospitals mere minutes after making it

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Elon Musk keeps downplaying the severity of coronavirus, and hedged his promise to produce ventilators for hospitals mere minutes after making it
Elon Musk keeps downplaying the severity of coronavirus, and hedged his promise to produce ventilators for hospitals mere minutes after making it

Minutes after promising Tesla would make ventilators "if there's a shortage," CEO Elon Musk appeared to question whether there was a shortage at all.

  • Elon Musk said he still believes panic over coronavirus is overblown in a series of tweets Wednesday night, repeatedly questioning or contradicting the predictions of experts.
  • Musk speculated that "panic will cause more harm than the virus," which has sickened more than 220,000 people and killed over 9,000 people worldwide, with cases in the US climbing exponentially.
  • He also falsely claimed Thursday that children are "essentially immune" to the virus. Cases have been reported in children and infants.
  • Minutes after promising that his factories would make ventilators "if there's a shortage," Musk then questioned whether there is a ventilator shortage. There have been widespread reports of shortages.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Elon Musk used Twitter on Wednesday night to reiterate, without evidence, that people were overreacting to the coronavirus pandemic. "The panic will cause more harm than the virus, if that hasn't happened already," he tweeted.

He also falsely claimed that children are "essentially immune" to the virus in a tweet Thursday. While children represent a minority of the confirmed cases, some children have caught the virus across the globe, and coronavirus has claimed the lives of an infant and a teenager.

More than 220,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, worldwide, and the virus' global death toll surged past 9,000 by Thursday morning. The rate of new cases has exponentially grown in the US, and a CDC report Wednesday suggested that the true number of people infected is far higher than the number who have been tested.

Musk, who is CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, claimed that a study produced by researchers at the Imperial College of London was wrong, tweeting that there's a "0% chance of anything close" to the study's estimate that there could be up to 2.2 million coronavirus deaths in the US. 

 

Musk also shared a graph published by the CDC and claimed, despite evidence in the graph showing otherwise, that the number of confirmed cases in the US was "trending to level off in the next few weeks & be negligible by the end of April." The graph that Musk references includes a clear disclaimer that illnesses that began in the past nine days may not yet be reported given COVID-19's long incubation period.

Earlier Wednesday, the billionaire founder and CEO said on Twitter that Tesla factories would be used to make ventilators "if there's a shortage." Minutes later, when told about hospitals across the US that were running out of ventilators, he questioned whether there was a shortage at all.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio then sent a tweet to Musk Wednesday morning, saying "we need ventilators ASAP" and "we're reaching out to you directly." Musk later responded that he would reach out to de Blasio to "understand potential needs."

Musk also agreed with a false claim tweeted by venture capitalist Jason Calacanis stating "deaths are leveling out" in Italy. The COVID-19 death rate in Italy continues to rise at an exponential rate, a fact that Calacanis later acknowledged when someone pointed it out in response to his tweet.

Tesla has continued operations at its California factory despite the statewide shelter-in-place order to slow the rate of infection in the state. A memo sent by Tesla management to factory workers Wednesday encouraged essential employees to keep coming to work. 

A spokesperson for Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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