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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (pictured) said Thursday the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, and has killed at least 170 people could be positive news for the U.S. economy.?
Ross made the remark during an
appearance on Fox Business network's "Mornings with Maria" after saying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which President Donald Trump signed during a White House ceremony on Wednesday, made a recession in 2020 "almost physically impossible." Host Maria Bartiromo asked if the spread?of?coronavirus could offset the gains he predicted the deal would bring.?
"First of all, every American's heart has to go out the victims of the coronavirus. So, I don't want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease," Ross said. "But the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain."?
Everything you need to know about the deadly illness alarming the world
Ross said the virus is "another risk factor" that people will consider before doing business in China.?
"So, I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America, some to U.S., probably some to Mexico as well," he said.?"You've already heard Apple talking about figuring out how to replace some of the Chinese production."?
? REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, speaks during an interview in New York, U.S., December 3, 2019.
Ross' comments were criticized by many on social media as insensitive.?
"These people are so sick and heartless. And just imagine the uproar if a member of any other administration said this," said radio host Michelangelo Signorile.?
"When it comes to Coronavirus, Wilbur Ross is apparently a glass-half-full kind of guy,"
tweeted Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake.?
"Typical sensitivity from the Trump administration," said columnist
Michael Schuman. "Wilbur Ross might as well have said 'the more of those Chinese who die over there, the more jobs for us!!'"
It was not the first time Ross has been accused of callousness.?
During the lengthy government shutdown in January 2019, Ross said?he didn't see why furloughed federal workers were?having to go to?food banks or?having trouble taking care of their families when they could just
take out a loan.?
A community worker checks the temperature of courier in an Express station on Jan. 29, 2020 in Hubei Province, Wuhan, China. Due to a transit shut down and lack of supplies, couriers have became the city's suppliers. The 2019 coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in Wuhan, China, has infected 6078 people and killed at least 132, mostly in China.
Students line up to sanitize their hands to avoid the contact of coronavirus before their morning class at a hight school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. China on Tuesday reported 25 more deaths from a new viral disease, as the U.S. government prepared to fly Americans out of the city at the center of the outbreak.
A man uses alcohol to disinfect the grounds nearby the Wuhan Huoshenshan hospital construction site on Jan. 28, 2020 in Wuhan, China.
People wear masks at a metro station in Taipei, Taiwan, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. According to the Taiwan Centers of Disease Control (CDC) Tuesday, the eighth case diagnosed with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been confirmed in Taiwan.
Residents wearing face masks shop at a market on Jan. 28, 2020 in Macau, China.
Chinese police officers wearing masks stand in front of the Tiananmen Gate on Jan. 26, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of coronavirus rose to 1,975 in mainland China on Sunday. Authorities tightened restrictions on travel and tourism this weekend after putting Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, under quarantine on Thursday. The spread of the virus corresponds with the first days of the Spring Festival, which is one of the biggest domestic travel weeks of the year in China. Popular tourism landmarks in Beijing including the Forbidden City, Badaling Great Wall, and The Palace Museum were closed to the public starting Saturday. The Beijing Municipal Education Commission announced it will delay reopening schools from kindergarten to university. The death toll on Sunday rose to 56. The majority of fatalities are in Wuhan where the first cases of the virus were reported last month.
Chinese passengers, most wearing masks, arrive to board trains before the annual Spring Festival at a Beijing railway station on January 23, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 500 in mainland China as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease.
Workers driving excavators at the construction site of a field hospital on January 24, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The builders will complete the 1,000-bed hospital by February 3 to cope with the surge of 2019-nCoV patients in the city.
Travellers wearing face mask wait at the departure hall at West Kowloon Station on January 23, 2020 in Hong Kong, China.
A notice explaining precautions to be taken by people traveling to Wuhan, China, is seen at a terminal of Rome's International Fiumicino airport, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Heightened precautions are being taken worldwide as a new strain of coronavirus has been infecting hundreds of people across the central Chinese metropolis.
A person walks across the skybridge at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett where a man with the first case of Wuhan coronavirus in the United States is being treated on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Everett, Wash. A U.S. resident who recently returned from a trip to central China has been diagnosed with the new virus. Health officials said Tuesday that the man returned to the Seattle area in the middle of last week after traveling to the Wuhan area, where the outbreak began.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, Washington state epidemiologist for communicable disease, speaks during a press conference about the first confirmed U.S. case of a virus known as the 2019 novel coronavirus at the state Public Health Laboratories on Jan. 21, 2020 in Shoreline, Washington. The patient diagnosed with the virus, also known as the Wuhan coronavirus, is recovering in isolation at a hospital in Everett, Wash.
Christian Drosten, director of the institute for virology of Berlin's Charite hospital stands next to a centrifuge after an interview with the Associated Press on his researches on the coronavirus in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.
A girl wears a protective mask as she is held by a relative as they wait to board a train at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on Jan. 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other parts of Asia including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
Health officials watch thermographic monitors at a quarantine inspection station at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.Countries both in the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere have initiated body temperature checks at airports, railway stations and along highways in hopes of catching those at risk of carrying a new coronavirus that has sickened more than 200 people in China.
A Chinese man kisses his partner goodbye while both wear protective masks as she leaves to travel home at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on Jan. 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human.
Chinese travelers wear protective masks as they arrive to board trains at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on Jan. 21, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Chinese children wear protective masks as they wait to board trains at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on Jan. 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to nearly 300 in mainland China Tuesday as health officials stepped up efforts to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts confirmed can be passed from human to human. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday and cases have been reported in other parts of Asia including in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says Wuhan coronavirus could be a boost for North American jobs