Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is calling on President Trump to shut down the U.S. in order to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mr. President, the only answer is to shut down the country for the next 30 days and close the borders,” Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, tweeted Wednesday.
“Tell all Americans that you are putting us on an extended Spring Break at home with family,” he added. “Keep only essential services open. The government pays wages until we reopen.”
“Please send everyone home now,” Ackman tweeted. “With your leadership, we can end this now. The rest of the world will follow your lead. A global Spring Break will save us all.”
“What’s scaring the American people and corporate America now is the gradual rollout,” Ackman told CNBC’s Scott Wapner on “Halftime Report” on Wednesday. “We need to shut it down now… This is the only answer.”
“America will end as we know it. I’m sorry to say so, unless we take this option,” he said. Ackman added if Trump saves the country from the coronavirus, he will get reelected in November.
Ackman urged U.S. companies to stop their buyback programs because “hell is coming.”
In the emotional interview, Ackman revealed he went into lockdown almost a month ago to save his father’s life who is immunocompromised.
“The only shared sacrifice that is going on right now is the health-care community, the nurses, the doctors, the people taking care of patients. Those people are making enormous sacrifices,” said Ackman. ”[The president] is not saying storm the beaches of Normandy right, he’s saying go home, go home, spend a month with your family.”
MacDailyNews Take: “Hell is coming.” “America will end as we know it.” It doesn’t get much starker than that. Again, even if you think Ackman is overstating or misreading the situation, it’s better in this case to overreact. Stay home. Stay away from others. Be smart. Let’s work together to blunt the coronavirus as much as possible!
Here’s the plan: Allow the virus to spread to people who are not really affected by it while protecting the vulnerable as much as possible. If the group that recovered from the virus is large enough, herd immunity will protect the vulnerable against the virus. This will happen naturally, as some people have to work and some people will just not heed the warnings and properly distance socially. With the current measures already advocated and in place, the U.S. and other governments are trying to “flatten the curve” as much as possible to spread the peak of infections over a longer period. This way immunity is built up in the population that is best-equipped to survive it while the healthcare system is not fatally overloaded. Those who need help to fight and survive the virus will have access to the hospitals, doctors, nurses, and equipment they need. Most people who contract COVID-19 will not need hospitals, doctors, nurses, and equipment. They will get sick, their immune system will do its job, and they will be immune.
If no measures were taken and the virus were allowed to spread unhindered it would make too many people sick quickly, overloading the healthcare system (see Wuhan initially, Iran and, to some extent, Italy). On the other extreme, a “total lockdown” as advocated by Ackman is not the best option because it would result in fewer cases of COVID-19, but as soon as those controls were relaxed, the virus would spring right back into action and we do not and will not have an effective vaccine that is deemed safe for a year at least.
More info on the Prevention & Treatment of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) via the U.S. CDC is here. Track the Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) here.