Technology

'Maybe it has covid': Elon Musk jokes that he allegedly caused California's health department website to crash after he linked to it during a Twitter rant (TSLA)

Elon Musk

After days of bashing US lockdown orders to his 33 million followers on Twitter, Elon Musk took aim at the California health department in his latest coronavirus-related tirade.

On Wednesday night, Musk tweeted a link to the data portal for the California Health and Human Services Agency, which provides up-to-date information on the number of coronavirus-related deaths, cases, and hospital patients who have tested positive across the state. An hour later, Musk wrote that the CHHS site had crashed.

“Maybe it has covid,” Musk tweeted.

Business Insider has been unable to verify that the server for the CHHS website experienced outages Wednesday night, although the data portal was working without issues by Thursday morning. The California Department of Public Health — the division overseeing CHHS — said it is looking into the claims. Cloudflare, the cybersecurity company whose network CHHS operates on, did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. 

Musk has spent the week on Twitter bashing US lockdown orders, slamming leaders for taking away people’s freedoms and commending Texas for reopening businesses. Also this week, in an earnings call for Tesla, Musk called the stay-at-home measures “fascist” and said they go against people’s constitutional rights.

Musk tweeted a graph that was built using data from CHHS to show that there are currently around 6,500 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 occupying California hospital beds. There are nearly 75,000 hospital beds across the state. Musk accompanied his graph with the claim, “hospitals in California have been half empty this whole time.”

More than 45,000 people in California have tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, and state Gov. Gavin Newsom has suggested that more than half of the state’s 40 million residents could be infected. Newsom has warned that the state’s hospitals could need around 60,000 hospital beds for coronavirus patients by mid-May if no intervention measures are taken.

Musk’s sentiment that the number of coronavirus cases and the strain on hospitals has been exaggerated has been echoed by conservative pundits and conspiracy theorists online. There have been anti-lockdown protests in several states in recent weeks, and continual surges of misinformation around the virus. One viral movement, tagged with #FilmYourHospital, encourages people to share photos on social media of apparently empty hospitals to show that the medical community isn’t as overwhelmed as reported.

However, there are a number of factors that could be contributing to the low number of hospital beds that are occupied in California. The state has been under a lockdown order since March 19, and has been directed to adhere to social distancing guidelines “until further notice.” A recent study found that since the lockdown orders went into place in California, the number of traffic collisions and resulting patients has decreased dramatically. Additionally, hospital beds in the state have been freed up after many hospitals in California postponed and canceled elective surgeries.

Musk has consistently downplayed the severity of the novel coronavirus since mid-March. Early on, he tweeted that “the panic will cause more harm than the virus, if that hasn’t happened already.” Tesla had previously encouraged employees to return to work April 29, despite instructions from California that staff had to stay home until at least May 4. CNBC reported Tuesday that Tesla has since canceled plans to make employees return to work by the end of April.

Early on Thursday, Musk tweeted “LIBERTY” in all caps, along with several American flag emoji and an Apple Animoji of a unicorn using explicit language. He quickly deleted the tweet.

SEE ALSO: There’s now an easy way to transfer your photos and videos from Facebook to Google Photos — here’s how

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