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'Sick and Heartless': Wilbur Ross Says Deadly Coronavirus Could 'Accelerate' Return of Jobs to US

"This is the kind of thing you say when you have no soul."

United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 22, 2020. (Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday suggested the deadly coronavirus that has sparked fears of a global pandemic could have a bright side, at least for the United States: more jobs.

"Every American's heart has to go out to 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 in an interview with Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business. "But the fact is it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain."

"It's another risk factor that people need to take into account," added Ross. "I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America, some to [the] U.S., probably some to Mexico as well."

"Ah, that's a good point actually," responded Bartiromo.

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The coronavirus has killed at least 170 people in China and infected nearly 8,000 more as the Chinese government and other nations have worked to contain the outbreak with travel bans and restrictions.

Ross' rosy assessment of potential U.S. economic gains from the virus was immediately denounced as grossly callous.

"This is the kind of thing you say when you have no soul," tweeted Jonathan Metzl, director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University.

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