Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Thinks the Coronavirus Outbreak Will Bring Jobs Back to North America

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a Thursday interview that the coronavirus outbreak that began in China could bode well for the job market in North America.

Ross, who has been a member of the Cabinet since he was appointed a month after the inauguration, made his case after Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo asked him on Thursday how he thought the coronavirus could impact China's global economic clout. Countries have limited travel to and from China in order to stymie the spread of the virus.

In his answer, Ross began by clarifying that his sympathies were with those who had been affected by the virus.

"Well, first of all, every American's heart has to go out to the victims of the coronavirus," Ross said. "So I don't want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease. But the fact is, it does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain.

"On top of all the other things, you had SARS, you had the African swine virus there, now you have this," he continued. "It's another risk factor that people need to take into account. So I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America. Some to U.S., probably some to Mexico as well."

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Wilbur Ross attends during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 22. Ross said that the outbreak "does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain." Fabrice Coffrini/Getty

Ross referred to the novel coronavirus that emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which boasts some 11 million inhabitants, in December 2019.

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus can cause severe respiratory problems. Its origins are reportedly linked to a seafood and meat market in Wuhan. However, as many of the reported cases involve people who have not had recent contact with such markets, the virus has likely developed the ability to spread from person to person.

Chinese authorities feared that the spread of the virus would be aided by Lunar New Year celebrations, which give many people in China—including those in Wuhan—reason to travel to other cities and countries to visit relatives.

NBC News reported on Thursday that there were at least 7,700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in China, with 170 people having died as a result of it.

According to the CDC, the virus has spread from China, and as of Wednesday there are confirmed cases in nearly 20 other countries, including the United States, Canada, France, South Korea and Germany.

The president commented on the spread of the virus in a Wednesday tweet, in which he wrote that the government would keep a close eye on updates about the virus's spread.

"Just received a briefing on the Coronavirus in China from all of our GREAT agencies, who are also working closely with China," Trump wrote. "We will continue to monitor the ongoing developments. We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!"

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Trump's Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Thinks the Coronavirus Outbreak Will Bring Jobs Back to North America | U.S.