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CNBC's Santelli: 'Maybe we'd be just better off' if we gave coronavirus 'to everybody' to expedite calmer markets

CNBC's Santelli: 'Maybe we'd be just better off' if we gave coronavirus 'to everybody' to expedite calmer markets
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CNBC commentator Rick Santelli argued on Thursday that infecting "everybody" in the U.S. at once with the coronavirus could ultimately be better for global and domestic markets because "in a month it would be over" with mortality rates ultimately being the same.

“Of course, people are getting nervous,” Santelli said in an appearance on the network's "The Exchange" with anchor Kelly Evans. "And listen, I’m not a doctor. All I know is, think about how the world would be if you tried to quarantine everybody because of the generic-type flu." 

"Now I’m not saying this is the generic-type flu," he noted. "But maybe we’d be just better off if we gave it to everybody, and 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.”

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Santelli apologized on Friday for the remarks, calling them "stupid" and "absurd."

“It was just a stupid thing to say. It is not appropriate in this instance, and we are resilient, both in the United States and in the globe, and that resilience will get us through," Santelli said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"The idea of something so absurd, I just apologize, and I apologize to everyone on this segment and all my peers at CNBC," he continued. "We will get through this. We are resilient. But even if one life is affected, I do apologize for my insensitivity.”

The comments come as coronavirus cases have approached 100,000 globally with a death toll of more than 3,000. The virus has been diagnosed in 13 states across the U.S. with a death toll of 12, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 970 points on Thursday, continuing a steep fall as markets across the globe continue to grapple with uncertainty around the impact coronavirus is having on supply chains and the ability to travel. 

Santelli's original argument immediately drew backlash on social media.

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The Hill has reached out to CNBC for comment. 

—Updated at 1:32 p.m.