In a series of Twitter posts this week, Elon Musk announced that he had tested positive on several initial coronavirus tests. While two of the four tests showed a negative result for coronavirus, the so-called “rapid” tests are known for high false-negative rates. However, a positive result on a rapid test is usually a reliable indication that a person has the virus.
A Troubling Pattern
The news comes as a spate of high-level officials and business leaders have reported catching the disease in recent months. In March, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was seeking treatment. Johnson received care at a local NHS hospital in London and recovered quickly. In October, US President Donald Trump announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus. He received treatment at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.
What an official diagnosis of COVID-19 for Musk could mean for Tesla, Inc. is anyone’s guess. So far, the electric car company has had a successful year despite concerns about the pandemic and its effects on the economy. Tesla’s stock has gained much traction over the last nine months.
Tesla’s Rockstar CEO
After joining Tesla in 2004, Musk quickly shot to fame as the company’s guru-like spokesman. Well-versed in cutting-edge scientific terminology, Musk has garnered a significant fanbase in recent years thanks to his charismatic personality. On stage at Tesla conferences, Musk is a compelling mixture of Carl Sagan and Steve Jobs: Indeed, Musk’s passion for scientific ideas and futuristic technology has made him a standout in the business world.
An Embattled Leader Faces a New Challenge
But a diagnosis of coronavirus could also slow Musk down for the time being: Famous for working 100 hours per week, Musk himself has tended to play down the societal and health effects of the coronavirus. Via his popular Twitter account, Musk once speculated that the spread of the virus would be largely mitigated by April of this year. He has been critical of lockdowns and has expressed concern about the economic effects of social distancing measures.
The Latest Twist in a Complicated Year
2020 has already been an important year for the embattled entrepreneur. In May, Musk and his partner Claire Boucher announced the birth of their son. In September, Musk speculated that Tesla would build a self-driving car that would retail for $25,000 within three years. Tesla’s stock has boomed over the last 12 months; currently, Tesla stock prices are around seven times higher than they were two years ago.
Taking the Next Step
That has meant big things for Musk on a personal level: Tesla’s surging stock prices have led to a big payout for the entrepreneur. Musk is said to have earned around $55 billion this year from his performance as the company’s CEO; his tenure as Tesla’s leader has made him one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs on the planet. Forbes currently lists him at number 31 on their “World’s Billionaires” list.
At the end of the day, it appears unlikely that a COVID-19 diagnosis will hold Musk back for long. But a diagnosis would certainly cap an interesting year for one of the world’s leading CEOs. Truly, a diagnosis for Musk would be a reminder that this is a disease that can affect people from all social backgrounds and circumstances.