Elon Musk among the corona deniers? It appears so if we take the recent statements by the Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter and in an email to employees that seem utterly irresponsible, especially considering the impact that Musk’s words have on many people.
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Employees at the Tesla plant in Fremont, which will continue production by special permission despite extensive protective measures in the area, are allowed to stay at home – if they “feel sick”. This, of course, implies that all those who do not yet show symptoms should continue to come to work. Just as Musk himself says he does. The fact that infected people can spread the virus significantly further before they show any symptoms and “feel sick” is wholly ignored by Musk.
Musk also expressed the opinion that the damage caused by the “panic” surrounding the coronavirus is much more significant than the damage caused by the virus itself. He assumes “that the confirmed COVID 19 cases (this particular form of the common cold) will not exceed 0.1% of the US population, based on the latest data from the Center for Disease Control”. Musk does not seem to have noticed that the actual number of infected people in the USA is likely far higher because of the lack of testing compared to other countries.
What we find particularly surprising, however, is that Musk of all people should know better about exponential growth, compared to some politicians.
Update 18 March 2020: In the meantime, Tesla has also been affected, although production at Fremont had continued with a special permit until now. Electric vehicle production must now be suspended for the next three weeks. This was not decided by Tesla, but by the responsible sheriff of Alameda County. During this time, Tesla may only carry out minimal operational activities, such as payroll accounting.
Tesla: @Tesla is not an essential business as defined in the Alameda County Health Order. Tesla can maintain minimum basic operations per the Alameda County Health Order.
— Alameda County Sheriff (@ACSOSheriffs) March 17, 2020
Some counties in Silicon Valley had imposed extensive curfews, a so-called “shelter-in-place” order. Only employees working in “essential business” such as the health sector or food-related industries were exempt and electric car production does not qualify. Tesla manufactures the Model S, X, 3 and now Y in Fremont. However, Gigafactory 3 near Shanghai continues to produce Model 3 for the Chinese market.
Update 19 March 2020: There had been some confusion around Tesla Fremont it appears. A spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said Tesla had agreed to reduce its workforce: “They assured me in a phone call to do a step-down reduction from about 10,000 to 2,500 people.” However, Alameda County later stated that the limited operation of the Tesla factory could not include the production of vehicles and announced they would take action if Tesla does not comply.
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