Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Sunday encouraged people to “go to your local pub” if you’re healthy, despite U.S. health experts recommending Americans limit their social interactions as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
Nunes was asked during an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo” what he thinks of the federal government’s response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus first documented in China.
“Well, most importantly I think what the American people have to understand is we need to stop panicking here,” Nunes said. “There’s no shortage of food in this country. People don’t need to go to the store and fight over bottled water or toilet paper.”
There’s a lot of concerns with the economy here because people are scared to go out. One of the things you can do, if you’re healthy, you and your family, it’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant ― likely you can get in easily.
Let’s not hurt the working people in this country that are relying on wages and tips to keep their small business going. Just don’t run to the grocery store and buy $4,000 of food. Go to your local pub.
Bartiromo nodded her head in agreement. “Right,” she said.
Nunes’ irresponsible suggestion flies in the face of advice from U.S. health experts, including Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci, who is helping lead the U.S. fight against the coronavirus, urged Americans ― even those who are not most vulnerable to the virus ― to reduce social interactions as much as possible during appearances on several Sunday morning political shows.
“I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction we see in restaurants and in bars,” Fauci told CNN. “Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I’d like to see.”
He went on to say that elderly people, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are not the only people vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Younger people should be concerned for two reasons: You are not immune or safe from getting seriously ill,” Fauci said. “So protect yourself. But remember: You could also be a vector or a carrier. ... That’s why everybody’s got to take this seriously.”
“This is agitprop, not just misinformation,” Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith tweeted. “Republicans don’t care much about ‘the working people’ when they’re depressing wages and busting unions. Sooner things are ‘normal,’ the better it is for Trump. [Nunes] is covering the president’s ass. Period.”
Like Nunes, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) faced similar backlash recently for appearing to downplay the significance of the virus and, perhaps more alarmingly, for drinking a Corona beer out of a shot glass.