Elon Musk has been tested for the novel coronavirus and received conflicting results, according to the tech mogul’s Twitter account. The 49-year-old founder of SpaceX wrote that he was given a rapid covid-19 antigen test four times, with two tests coming back positive and two coming back negative on the same day. Musk, who wrote that he experienced the symptoms of a typical cold, previously said the covid-19 pandemic would be gone by April.
“Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for covid four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test from BD,” Musk tweeted shortly after midnight ET.
BD most likely refers to New Jersey-based Becton Dickinson, a company that produces a common rapid test for covid-19. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned back in July that BD’s rapid tests are less reliable than PCR tests, with about 3% of BD’s rapid tests returning false positives. BD’s tests are commonly used in nursing homes, one of the communities most vulnerable to covid-19.
Musk, who has criticised covid-19 lockdown measures and openly flouted workplace safety protocols in California during the pandemic, wrote that he tested positive once, then negative twice, then positive again. BD did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.
“Could this be why we’ve been seeing such a major spike?” a Twitter user asked Musk, referring to the frightening rise in covid cases throughout the U.S. that some conspiracy theorists believe is a hoax.
“If it’s happening to me, it’s happening to others. I’m getting PCR tests from separate labs. Results will take about 24 hours,” Musk responded.
The U.S. is experiencing the worst covid-19 outbreak in the world with virtually every corner of the country breaking records for coronavirus cases and hospitalisations. The U.S. identified 150,526 new cases and 1,104 deaths from covid-19 on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Over 67,000 people are currently hospitalised with the disease. Both the daily case count and the number of people hospitalised on Thursday are new records for the country and the world. The U.S. has recorded 10.5 million cases and over 242,000 cases since the pandemic began.
Hospitals are being overwhelmed across the U.S. but especially in the Upper Midwest, with one intensive care patient in Michigan even recently being treated in a storage room. Many hospitals in North Dakota are at 100% capacity, and some patients are being transferred out of the hospital to senior care facilities to make room for the sickest patients. North Dakota is so desperate for health care workers that staff who test positive for the virus are being allowed to work if they’re asymptomatic. Notably, asymptomatic people are still able to spread the disease and there’s real concern for others in the hospital who haven’t contracted the virus yet.
Musk, arguably America’s dumbest smart person, has been something of a covid denialist on Twitter, constantly questioning the science of the pandemic and helping spread conspiracy theories to his nearly 40 million followers. On March 19, Musk tweeted that there would be “close to zero new cases” in the U.S., “by end of April.” And on April 29 Musk tweeted “FREE AMERICA NOW” in response to the relatively lax partial lockdowns in some states that were intended to curb the spread of the virus. As Dr. Anthony Fauci has explained, the U.S. never really locked down in the same way that other countries locked down.
Musk has also frequently agreed with pro-Trump covid denialists, including one woman known as Melissa Tate who wrote, “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 replied “true.” Tate now appears to be spreading disinformation about the 2020 presidential campaign, insisting that President Trump actually won re-election. In fact, Joe Biden won by a healthy margin in several key battleground states to secure the Electoral College vote.
Musk elaborated on his symptoms early Friday, explaining that he had, “mild sniffles & cough & slight fever past few days.” But Musk seems to be on the mend, whether or not it turns out he has the disease.
“Right now, no symptoms, although I did take NyQuil,” Musk wrote.