Hedge-fund tycoon Bill Ackman fired off a tweetstorm to President Trump on Wednesday, proposing that the US impose a nationwide “extended spring break” to combat the coronavirus.
In a series of early morning tweets addressed to Trump, the activist hedge fund manager proposed that he “shut down the country for the next 30 days and close the borders,” in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has ground the economy to a halt and crippled the markets.
“Tell all Americans that you are putting us on an extended Spring Break at home with family,” Ackman tweeted at 7:51 a.m. “Keep only essential services open. The government pays wages until we reopen.”
The 53-year-old billionaire went on to propose a 30-day federally mandated “rent, interest and tax holiday for all.”
Ackman, who declined to be interviewed Wednesday, also appeared to be advocating mandatory, shelter-in-place lockdowns for all American citizens to control the spread of the virus that reached 200,000 cases globally Wednesday morning, according to WHO data.
“With exponential compounding, every day we postpone the shutdown costs thousands, and soon hundreds of thousands, and then millions of lives, and destroys the economy,” Ackman wrote in a subsequent tweet.
Ackman called into CNBC at midday, painting a dark picture of what he thinks will happen if drastic measures are not taken to contain the spread of the pandemic.
“Until a vaccine is manufactured, distributed and injected, we will go through a depression-era period in the country,” said a clearly emotional Ackman. “Millions of people are going to die around the globe and as many as a million Americans, it’s just math.”
Ackman said he closed the offices of his hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital, on Feb. 27, telling all of his 50 employees to work from home. Two of those people out of 50 are now presumptive positives for COVID-19.
Pershing Square holds a significant amount of stock in Hilton Hotels. Ackman told CNBC that if the virus is not contained, the stock in that company will “go to zero.”
He went on to say that he is buying stock in the company and a few others, then clarified his stance on Twitter by posting, “I am confident the president will do the right thing in temporarily shutting down the country and closing the borders… These are bargains of a lifetime if we manage this crisis correctly.”
But overall, Ackman’s tone was borderline apocalyptic.
“I went into lockdown more than a month ago to save my father’s life,” said Ackman, his voice noticeably cracking referring to his 81-year-old father who has diminished lung capacity. “We need to save everybody’s life.”