US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has claimed the lives of 213 and infected almost 10,000 people globally could boost the US economy.
“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America – some to US, probably some to Mexico as well,” Ross said in an interview on Fox News.
He acknowledged the downside, saying, “I don’t want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease.”
Ross added that businesses need to take the risk into account and consider the virus when reviewing supply chains.
Later, the US Commerce Department said in a statement: “As Secretary Ross made clear, the first step is to bring the virus under control and help the victims of this disease.”
The commerce department’s spokesperson added: “It is also important to consider the ramifications of doing business with a country that has a long history of covering up real risks to its own people and the rest of the world.”
The statements have been criticized by some economists and politicians, with Democrat congressman Don Beyer tweeting that Ross’ reaction to a “disease killing hundreds is to talk about ways to make money off it.”
“Somehow they always find a way to be worse,” he added.