About a week ago, Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk sent a quick, impulsive tweet saying that he thought “the coronavirus panic is dumb and moved on with his many important businesses. But since then, the deadly virus has continued spreading across the country, rattling economy and forcing countless businesses to shutter.
So, late Monday, as first reported by Electrek, Musk sent a letter to Tesla’s 56,000 employees to clarify company policies during this crisis and his personal thoughts on the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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,” Musk wrote. “I will personally be at work, but that is just me. Totally OK if you want to stay home for any reason.”
Reiterating his previous stance on the crisis, the Tesla CEO said, “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.”
In seven counties of the Bay Area, including Alameda county, where Tesla’s Fremont factory is located, a shelter-in-place order that urges everyone to stay home except for essential travels is taking effect on Tuesday. But, according to Electrek, several Tesla employees said they were told that the factory would remain open, meaning they are expected to come in.
No Tesla employee is known to have been tested positive for Covid-19 just yet, Musk stressed.
He also shared his own prediction of how widespread the coronavirus will get. “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 percent of the U.S. 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,” Musk added, referring the CDC’s 2017 statistics showing that heart diseases, cancer, accidents and respiratory diseases (in that order) were the top four causes for the 2.8 million resident deaths in the U.S. that year (equivalent to a crude death rate of 0.86 percent).