Commerce secretary says deadly coronavirus could be good for America

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Thousands of cases of the deadly virus have been confirmed, and 170 people have already died, but Wilbur Ross is pleased that a fast-spreading virus could help the U.S. economically.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday that the deadly coronavirus might be good for the American economy because businesses will now avoid China.

In a Fox Business interview, Ross lamented "a very unfortunate, very malignant disease," but then explained that it could mean more American jobs.

"The fact is it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain," he said. Noting that China also has dealt with SARS and African swine fever in recent years, Ross called the latest outbreak "another risk factor that people need to take into account."

"I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America. Some to the U.S., probably some to Mexico as well," he predicted.

As of Thursday, 170 people in China have already died from the coronavirus, and more than 7,700 cases have been confirmed.

But contrary to Ross' implication, viruses do not always stay in one country. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least five cases have been confirmed in the United States already.

"Americans should know that this is a potentially very serious public health threat," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned this week, while urging the nation not to panic yet.

The virus is fast-moving and experts say it could be tough to contain — especially in a medical system already stretched thin by influenza.

The University of Minnesota's Michael Osterholm, an expert on infectious disease and policy, told the Los Angeles Times this week that it could be difficult to avoid contagion even at American hospitals and medical clinics.

"Stopping an influenza-like transmission in a community is like stopping the wind," he said.

The United States has also experienced supply chain issues of its own in recent years due to infectious diseases. E. coli problems have repeatedly necessitated recalls of romaine lettuce, and a 2003 Mad Cow disease outbreak led to international boycotts of American beef.

The threat of a new global pandemic is not good news for anyone's economy, but Ross' prediction is the latest in a long string of dishonest and tone-deaf comments.

The millionaire vulture capitalist, who has been called the "king of bankruptcy," praised the lack of protests during a 2017 Trump visit to Saudi Arabia, where such demonstrations have been banned since 2011.

He lied to Congress about his push to rig the 2020 census and was rebuked by the Supreme Court for a "contrived" justification for the scheme.

During the 2019 government shutdown, Ross said he could not grasp why unpaid federal workers might need to get food from homeless shelters. "I don't really quite understand why," he said. "Because as I mentioned to you before, the obligations that they would undertake, say, borrowing from a bank or credit union, are in effect federally guaranteed."

Last September, Ross reportedly threatened to fire employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after they contradicted Donald Trump's false claims that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama. A spokesperson for Ross denied that anyone was threatened, but environmental groups and members of Congress called on Ross to resign.

He has not done so.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.