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Elon Musk says ‘coronavirus panic is worse than virus itself’ in email to Tesla employees

Elon Musk sent a new email to all Tesla employees today to share some thoughts about the coronavirus as the Bay Area, where tens of thousands of Tesla employees work, has imposed a shelter-in-place that tells people to stay home.

As we reported earlier today, six counties in the Bay Area have issued a “shelter-in-place” order with the hope to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and flatten the growth of the virus.

They stated:

Everyone is to work from home, or stop working, unless they provide an essential service: health care workers; police, fire, and other emergency responders.

We received reports from Tesla employees at Fremont factory saying that the company is telling them that they will be expected to work tomorrow unless they feel ill.

It wasn’t clear if Tesla managed to obtain an exemption.

Now CEO Elon Musk addressed the issue directly in an email to all Tesla employees obtained by Electrek.

The CEO started by making it clear that employees are not forced to go to work:

First, I’d like to be super clear that if you feel the slightest bit ill or even uncomfortable, please don’t feel obligated to come to work. I will personally be at work, but that is just me. Totally OK if you want to stay home for any reason.

Over the last few days, we have received report of rumors that some employees at Tesla Fremont factory have been infected by the virus.

Musk said that no one has tested positive to the best of Tesla’s knowledge:

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.

After that, the CEO was critical of the level of panic around the virus:

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.

Though he also issued a warning for family gatherings:

What the COVID-19 coverage does show is that the danger of colds and flu in general can be high for the elderly, especially if there is prior lung damage. Much is made of public gatherings, but please be cautious of family gatherings, too. What is relatively harmless to a child can be dangerous to grandparents.

Musk added his own prediction:

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. Moreover, I do not think, when we look back on 2020, that the causes of death or serious injury will have changed much from 2017, for example: (CDC statistic).

The CEO then reiterated that employees should “not feel obligated to come to work if they have any concern.”

However, he didn’t elaborate on paid leaves or job security.

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