Fox News host Jesse Watters admitted Monday on “The Five” that he should’ve taken social distancing more seriously given the coronavirus pandemic, as the network enforced the measure on air.
Adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines ― which include limiting groups of 50 or more people, limiting coming within 6 feet of others, and avoiding public places ― the program nixed the usual panel layout to divide hosts in separate rooms Monday.
Dana Perino and co-host Greg Gutfeld were seated face to face at a long table in one portion of the studio, Juan Williams and Jesse Watters in a separate upstairs area, and Lisa Kennedy Montgomery in a separate newsroom, with Perino announcing that social distancing would be implemented on the show going forward.
During the broadcast, Watters said he regretted dining out in public over the weekend and urged viewers to listen to official advice to limit the spread of the disease. Just two weeks ago, the co-host had said on the program that he was “not afraid of the coronavirus and no one else should be that afraid either,” and he suggested harnessing the “power of positive thinking” to beat the sickness.
“I woke up this morning and I realized that was not the right move. I am no longer going out to dinner, I was trying to help my local restaurants,” he said Monday of his choices over the weekend.
“I urge all my fellow Americans, no matter where you are, to respect the social distancing, urging from the president of the United States.”
The shift comes as President Donald Trump, too, has begun to treat the pandemic more seriously as the nation’s death toll reaches 68 and 3,487 people have tested positive. Trump, who had previously downplayed the severity of the outbreak, urged Monday that the CDC’s 50-person limit on gatherings should now be revised to groups of 10 people.
Gutfeld referred to the president’s latest guidelines, saying he was tired of hearing his friends saying that people are “overdoing it” by taking such precautionary measures.
“I would prefer to look back and be wrong and look back and be foolish than think about, ‘Oh, I didn’t do enough,’” he said.
“So I’m willing to bite the bullet now, peel that Band-Aid off. And you may never know if your overreaction helped, and the people who underreacted are going to gloat and say, ‘See, it was no big deal at all.’”
Earlier this year, before the novel coronavirus had spread significantly in the U.S., Gutfeld had joked on “The Five” that the president would probably “cure the coronavirus and make China pay for it.”
Governors and mayors across the country have implemented closures of restaurants, bars, schools and other organizations and events in numerous states and cities in an effort to enforce social distancing. Fox News is one of numerous networks to implement bans on live studio audiences and limits on staffing in a bid to slow the spread of the outbreak.