When Elon Musk tweeted Thursday that "kids are essentially immune" from COVID-19, it seemed a pretty clear cut violation of a new coronavirus misinformation policy Twitter had put in place the day before. That statement was literally the example the platform cited to describe what would not be allowed under the new rules, but the company nonetheless decided not to remove the tweet from the Tesla founder.

Why it matters: People have already heard mixed messages about the virus, including dismissive comments from Musk himself, and misinformation can only worsen the pandemic.

Here's what Twitter said to explain what kinds of messages its new rules forbid:

Denial of established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period or transmission guidance from global and local health authorities, such as “COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven’t seen any cases of children being sick.”
— Twitter

Here's what Musk tweeted:

Kids are essentially immune, but elderly with existing conditions are vulnerable. Family gatherings with close contact between kids & grandparents probably most risky.
— Elon Musk

What they're saying: Twitter says it concluded Musk's tweet wasn't "definitive.""

We reviewed the Tweets, and they don't violate our rules at this time. Please continue to share anything you think we should take a closer look at — we'll continue to rely on trusted partners, such as health authorities, to flag content that is harmful."
— Twitter, in a statement to Axios

The medical community, meanwhile, has been clear that kids can catch the disease and transmit it, even if they are less likely to show symptoms or become seriously ill themselves.

"Children may play a major role in community-based viral transmission," a pair of pediatricians wrote in a note accompanying the largest-yet study of the role of children and COVID-19, which was published this week in Pediatrics.

Flashback: Musk has been downplaying the threat of the virus for some time, tweeting on March 6 that "the coronavirus panic is dumb," and has made other comments since suggesting the virus worries were overblown.

  • He has also been in the news for offering to make ventilators in Tesla plants, but he tweeted Thursday that "We’re working on ventilators, even though I think there will not be a shortage by the time we can make enough to matter."

Meanwhile: Just as Twitter was allowing Musk's comments to stand, Facebook was webcasting CEO Mark Zuckerberg's interview with Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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Updated 3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 18,814,178 — Total deaths: 707,754— Total recoveries — 11,361,953Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 4,823,891 — Total deaths: 158,256 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Public health: Florida surpasses 500,000 confirmed casesFauci calls U.S. coronavirus testing delays "totally unacceptable."
  4. Business: America's next housing crisis.
  5. States: Virginia launches contact tracing app using specs from Apple and Google.
  6. Cities: L.A. mayor authorizes utilities shut-off at homes hosting large gatherings
  7. Politics: White House, Democrats remain "trillions of dollars apart" on stimulus talks.
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Hiroshima mayor warns of rise of nationalism on 75th anniversary

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) at the Memorial Cenotaph in the Peace Memorial Park during the 75th anniversary service for atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima, Japan, on Thursday. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

Hiroshima's Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Thursday urged the international community to work together to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and warned against an increase in "self-centered nationalism," per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: He said at a remembrance service on the atomic bombing of the Japanese city that the 1918 flu pandemic killed millions as countries fighting in World War I were unable to overcome the threat together, per DPR. "A subsequent upsurge in nationalism led to World War II," he added. The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945 and Nagasaki three days later contributed to the end of World War II, but tens of thousands of people died. At the service, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lamented nuclear weapons' "inhumanity," but he didn't mention Japan's wartime past, WashPost noted.

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LeBron James on Trump NBA protest remarks: "We could care less"

The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James kneels during the national anthem before the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Wednesday. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

LeBron James responded on Wednesday night to President Trump's comments calling NBA players "disgraceful" for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and that he won't watch games because of the action.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly criticized sports players for taking the knee since 2016. But James said during a news conference, "I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership, him viewing the game." November's elections marked "a big moment for us as Americans," he said. "If we continue to talk about, 'We want better, we want change,' we have an opportunity to do that," he added. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the league will "respect peaceful protest."

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