Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Photo: Getty Images

Billionaire Elon Musk, America’s dumbest smart guy, spent the night tweeting about how America needs to “reopen” its economy, despite Musk’s failed predictions about the trajectory of the coronavirus crisis. A month ago, Musk insisted that new coronavirus cases in the U.S. would be “close to zero” by the end of April. Well, it’s the end of April, and the country is still reporting over 20,000 new cases per day, according to the CDC.

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“FREE AMERICA NOW,” Musk tweeted overnight after sending out news articles about plans to relax social distancing restrictions in various parts of the U.S., the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world by far.

“Give people their freedom back!” Musk wrote in another tweet that linked to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by millionaire T.J. Rodgers. The 72-year-old libertarian held up Sweden’s relaxed lockdown rules as a relative success because, “Older people in care homes accounted for half of Sweden’s deaths.”

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“Bravo Texas!” Musk exclaimed in yet another tweet overnight about how Texas plans to reopen restaurants, malls, and movie theaters on Friday. Texas has seen at least 690 coronavirus deaths, though the real number is believed by experts to be much higher.

Musk also agreed with a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist overnight who tweeted, “The scariest thing about this pandemic is not the virus itself, it’s seeing American so easily bow down & give up their blood bought freedom to corrupt politicians who promise them safety.” Musk simply replied, “True.”

The U.S. has identified at least 1,012,583 cases of covid-19 and 58,355 deaths as of Wednesday morning, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. And those numbers are expected to rise if the social distancing restrictions denounced by Musk are lifted too early, according to the latest projections by the CDC. But over the past few months, Musk has shown he’s not the guy you want to be taking advice from during this worldwide pandemic.

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Back on March 19, Musk predicted there would be “close to zero new cases” in the U.S. “by end of April.” Today is April 28, and while new cases in a handful of regions have seemingly plateaued, there are still almost 2,000 deaths per day and tens of thousands of new cases reported daily across the country.

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The U.S. currently has the highest number of cases in the world, with over one million confirmed, and President Donald Trump insists the only reason is because the country is testing more than anyone else, which isn’t exactly true. The U.S. is indeed doing the highest number of tests at the moment, but relative to population size, it lags behind other wealthy countries like Italy.

Musk is a relatively smart guy. But just because he owns a rocket company doesn’t mean he understands what’s best for public health. And in that way, Musk is the dumbest “smart guy” we know. Musk is not afraid to show his ignorance on this issue, sometimes bordering on trutherism in his suggestive tweets about the pandemic.

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Musk’s Tesla factory in Fremont, California has also been in the news lately, as questions over whether it should reopen seem to change daily. The San Francisco Bay Area, which includes Fremont, has a shelter-in-place order that expires on May 4, assuming it doesn’t get extended. Musk has been impatient to get the plant reopened and it’s still not clear whether that’s going to happen next week.

A customer takes a selfie in front of a sign recommending social distancing while waiting to enter the Industry City Costco store on April 28, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
A customer takes a selfie in front of a sign recommending social distancing while waiting to enter the Industry City Costco store on April 28, 2020 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Photo: Getty Images
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The 48-year-old entrepreneur has been skeptical, if we can call it that, of the coronavirus pandemic from the beginning. On March 6, Musk tweeted “The coronavirus panic is dumb” and on March 19, he tweeted “kids are essentially immune” to the disease, something that’s objectively not true. As just one example, the 5-month-old daughter of a New York City firefighter died this past weekend of the novel coronavirus.

In case it wasn’t clear, Elon Musk is not volunteering to die for the economy. He’s volunteering his workers and your kids to act as guinea pigs for a disease that we still know very little about. The CDC just added six new coronavirus symptoms for diagnosing the disease, and we’re learning that most patients who’ve required hospitalization in New York have not had fevers. That’s counter to everything we thought we knew about the virus just a couple of months ago. In fact, you couldn’t get a covid-19 test in the U.S. without a fever and it’s not clear that you’d even be able to get one today if you don’t register a high body temperature.

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As long as Musk has got a Twitter account, he’ll continue spewing his most ill-informed thoughts to the world in the middle of the night. And given a recent court ruling in his favor, let’s just hope he doesn’t start calling anyone with the virus a pedophile. It’s really the best we can hope for these days.

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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