Elon Musk Criticized for Downplaying Coronavirus Risk

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk has been downplaying the risk of the Coronavirus to his employees and millions of Twitter followers while thousands of people have become sick and died, hospitals have run short of food and medical supplies, and normal life has come to a grinding halt around the globe,

The coronavirus panic is dumb,” Musk said in a tweet last week that has been criticized as minimizing the risks of what the World Health Organization has declared to be a deadly global pandemic.

BuzzFeed News reports on a company-wide email Musk sent to SpaceX employees:

In the note to employees of the rocket manufacturer, the SpaceX chief noted that all the evidence he had seen about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, “suggests that this is *not* within the top 100 health risks in the United States.”

“As a basis for comparison, the risk of death from C19 is *vastly* less than the risk of death from driving your car home,” Musk, who also runs electric car manufacturer Tesla, wrote to SpaceX employees. “There are about 36 thousand automotive deaths per deaths [sic], as compared to 36 so far this year for C19.”

Musk did advise any employees who are feeling sick to stay home. However, work at SpaceX and Tesla in the United States appears to be continuing as usual.

Health experts told BuzzFeed News that Musk’s logic is “crazy” and ignores the need to limit the spread of the virus..

“It doesn’t make logical sense comparing those types of things,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. “This virus is not a containable virus, and while most people do well with it, there is a proportion that don’t. People may end up dying from this, and we should be focused on trying to limit people’s exposure.”

Brandon Brown, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Riverside, called Musk’s logic “crazy” at a time when government organizations have encouraged social distancing to limit societal risk.