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April 30, 2020, 9:35 a.m. EDT

Elon Musk rants against ‘forcibly imprisoning people,’ but he’s got an iffy track record on coronavirus

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By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch


MarketWatch photo illustration/Getty Images, iStockphoto

He didn’t yell “go to China!” to a health-care worker. He didn’t grab a sign and join some parade. And he didn’t spew some nonsense while confronting a police officer in a local park.

Elon Musk did, however, use his vast social-media reach to launch his own lockdown protest:

Oh, but the Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -2.48% boss was just getting warmed up:

Musk also clarified that he’s not some maniac calling for a free-for-all return to normalcy. “Reopen with care and appropriate protection, but don’t put everyone under de facto house arrest,” he tweeted in response to a fan calling himself “Pope of Muskanity.”

Later, on Tesla’s earnings call Wednesday, Musk continued with his rant.

“The expansion of the shelter in place [in the Bay Area], or as we call it forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights, is in my opinion breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong, and not why people came to America or built this country,” he said.

His word for it: “Fascism.”

Leading up to all this, Tesla was forced to delay the reopening of its Fremont factory after six Bay Area counties extended the lockdown until the end of May. Tesla had planned to reopen the facility, closed since March 23, on May 4, when the lockdown order was supposed to be lifted.

Before you put too much stock into Musk’s take on the coronavirus, you might want to take a look at his track record. He called the panic “dumb” last month and predicted that, by the end of April, the U.S. would probably see “ close to zero new cases .” As it stands now, with thousands of new cases each day, the U.S. has the highest case toll at 1.01 million, as well as the highest death toll at 58,368, which is more than the 58,220 lives that were lost in the Vietnam War.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus hasn’t dented Musk’s personal fortune, as a potential windfall is headed his way that would dwarf any payday for star Silicon Valley executives. Tesla shares, bucking the broader selloff this year, have been on fire and were up another 6% early Thursday.

/zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 1,452.71
-36.87 -2.48%
Volume: 8.90M
Aug. 7, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
756.03
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$270.73 billion
Rev. per Employee
$439,627
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Shawn Langlois is an editor and writer for MarketWatch in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @slangwise.

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