William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
CNBC commentator Rick Santelli is facing a backlash after suggesting Thursday that the US may be "better off" if everyone contracted coronavirus now in order to more quickly stabilize markets.
Santelli argued that months of preventative health measures like quarantine would have a more damaging effect on the economy than infecting everyone now because "in a month it would be over."
Coronavirus cases have approached 100,000 globally with more than 3,000 deaths, mostly in China. More than 100 cases have been confirmed across 13 states in the US. Markets are plunging as the virus spreads.
Santelli apologized Friday morning.
CNBC commentator Rick Santelli made a controversial argument about the spread of coronavirus on the network Thursday afternoon: "Maybe we'd just be better off if we gave it to everybody."
Santelli claimed that preventative measures like quarantining people exposed to COVID-19, which the CDC has recommended, would be more disruptive to international markets than simply letting the virus spread as fast as possible.
"Then in a month it would be over because the mortality rate of this probably isn't going to be any different if we did it that way than the long-term picture, but the difference is we're wreaking havoc on global and domestic economies," Santelli said.
His remarks were quickly called out by people online as insensitive.
COVID-19 has a mortality rate of 3.4 percent, according to the World Health Organization; the most deaths have been reported in areas of China that have seen the most severe outbreaks.
Global markets have continued to fall as the coronavirus spreads, with global stocks plummeting by roughly $9 trillion in the past nine days, according to a Bank of America research note.
Santelli apologized for his remarks on air Friday morning.
"It was a stupid thing to say, it's not appropriate in this instant," Santelli said. "I do apologize for my insensitivity."
Santelli's remarks drew almost universal backlash online.
This is absolutely horrifying.
Rick Santelli on @CNBC says we should consider giving coronavirus to everybody to just get it over with.
That way it won’t wreak so much havoc on the economy.
This is your brain on capitalism.pic.twitter.com/Uv5UYyKtxy
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) March 5, 2020
“baby, sneeze in my mouth.” - rick santelli https://t.co/guucRs0Ut2
— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) March 5, 2020
This is what happens when money is your god.https://t.co/0xwu6St3MJ
— Karoli #BidenHarris2020 (@Karoli) March 5, 2020
CNBC did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.