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Facebook CEO warns coronavirus outbreaks likely after reopenings

James Leggate

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Mark Zuckerberg is worried the economy could “reopen” too soon.

The Facebook founder and CEO said returning life to normal in areas where the coronavirus is still too prevalent could “almost guarantee future outbreaks” and cause the economic downturn to last even longer.

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Zuckerberg made the comments during Facebook’s quarterly earnings call with investors Wednesday. The company said it saw a notable drop in its advertising business in March due to the pandemic, but it stabilized during the first weeks of April.

The cautious reopening stance puts Zuckerberg at odds with some other tech CEOs like Elon Musk, who tweeted support for a sooner-than-later reopening early Wednesday.

“FREE AMERICA NOW,” Musk tweeted.

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The coronavirus has sickened more than 1 million people in the United States and COVID-19, the illness caused by the new virus, killed more than 60,000 people in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Many states have set plans for a gradual reopening, by allowing some types of businesses to resume offering goods and services. In some cases, businesses will temporarily face restrictions on occupancy or certain practices.

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For Facebook, large numbers of people being forced to stay home may have had some advantages. While its advertising dropped, the company said it saw engagement and its number of daily active users rise.

“Our work has always been about helping you stay connected with the people you care about,” Zuckerberg said in a written statement. “With people relying on our services more than ever, we're focused on keeping people safe, informed and connected.”

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