CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Tuesday the stock market could go higher if more people in the U.S. wore face masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The current strength in equities is concentrated in technology-related stocks and not sectors tied to state economic reopening plans, Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.”
“Let’s give the cloud stocks their due, but a lot of other stocks could take off” as well if everyone wore masks and helped to bring virus transmission down, the “Mad Money” host said.
Cramer, who has long urged people to wear masks during the pandemic, also praised the recent decisions by major corporations, such as Walmart and Kroger, to require shoppers to wear face masks. Best Buy and Starbucks also recently implemented mandatory mask policies.
“People don’t want to die for shopping. As much as we love shopping, it’s not worth dying for,” he said.
Costco was one of the earliest companies to require customers to wear masks, Cramer noted, with the wholesale retailer announcing its policy in late April. “They were worried that their same store sales would not go up. And boom, they went up 11%,” said Cramer.
Shortly after Costco’s announcement, Cramer complimented the company and said it, not the federal government, is setting the standard on masks. “Costco is going to be right.”
A number of states across the U.S. have since implemented mandatory mask policies, but the federal government has declined to do so. President Donald Trump recently told Fox News he did not want a federal requirement.
“No, I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that,” Trump said in an interview that aired Sunday.
But Trump, who has largely resisted wearing a mask in public during the pandemic, on Monday made his strongest endorsement yet for face coverings. In a tweet, he described wearing a mask as the “Patriotic” thing to do. He also wore wore a mask during a public visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11.
The president’s tweet was the latest instance of Trump administration members stepping up their rhetoric around face coverings. It comes at a time of increasing Covid-19 cases in many parts of the country.
“I think if we could get everybody to wear a mask right now I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week.
Cramer was critical of the Trump administration’s stance on masks earlier in the pandemic, describing Vice President Mike Pence‘s decision to tour the Mayo Clinic without a mask in April as “an example of recklessness.”
“That’s why the president was right to wear a mask because it could really, really help us,” Cramer said Tuesday, adding he hopes “this ‘give me convenience or give me death’ attitude might be over.”