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Elon Musk Is Being Peak Elon Musk About the Coronavirus

Elon Musk makes a frowny face.

California’s Bay Area is currently under a shelter-in-place order, meaning no one is supposed to leave their current place of residence except for “essential business.” And apparently, Tesla’s Elon Musk considers his electric cars “essential,” because he’s still suggesting his 10,000 employees report to work, if passive-aggressively.

According to the Washington PostMusk sent an email to his employees technically giving them permission to stay home while pointing out that he’ll be at work, reinforcing the toxic workplace mentality that stigmatizes prioritizing their own health.

“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,” he wrote Monday night. “I will personally be at work, but that is just me. Totally OK if you want to stay home for any reason.”

Musk has made it clear that he’s not taking the coronavirus seriously. A few weeks ago, he tweeted that the “coronavirus panic is dumb,” and apparently, he still feels that way. In addition to making employees risk their health to show up to work at his factory, Musk is back on Twitter telling everyone how easy he thinks it would be to fix this whole silly little global pandemic.

On Wednesday evening, Musk tweeted, “My guess is that the panic will cause more harm than the virus, if that hasn’t happened already.”

Earlier in the week, Musk wrote that the “danger of panic still far exceeds danger of corona imo,” adding, “If we over-allocate medical resources to corona, it will come at expense of treating other illnesses.”

When someone told him to “stop being an idiot about this” and use some of his massive resources to make much-needed medical ventilators, Musk responded that he “will make ventilators if there is a shortage.” IF!

When people pointed out to Musk that there already is a dangerous ventilator shortage, he asked for specifics.

Is crowdsourcing Twitter really the best way to get this kind of information? I have to think it’s not.

This is, of course, Elon Musk’s entire thing. This is the same Elon Musk who promised to solve Flint’s water crisis but refused to listen to what the city actually needed—the Elon Musk who offered to help rescue those young soccer players stuck in a cave in Thailand in 2018 and then hurled insults online at one of the divers who actually did it.

So sure, offering to solve the coronavirus and then making Nate Silver tell him where the hospitals are seems entirely on-brand.

(image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.