Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) criticized California for canceling school due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“Look, the schools were just canceled out here in California, which is way overkill,” Nunes said Tuesday night on Fox News. “It’s possible kids could have went back to school in two weeks to four weeks, but they just canceled the rest of the schools.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has not officially canceled school for the rest of the year, but the state’s superintendent of education, Tony Thurmond, has said students would likely continue online instruction for the rest of the school year.
Nunes added that the economy came ahead of health precautions saying: “We have to focus on keeping people employed. I will tell you this, if we don’t start to get people back to work in this country over the next week to two weeks, I don’t believe that we can wait until the end of April.”
President Donald Trump had previously advocated for the economy to be back up and running by Easter but later reversed course and extended federal social distancing guidelines through April.
Nunes also accused media of creating hysteria over the virus.
“Let’s stop looking at the death counters and let’s talk about how we can keep as many people employed as possible,” Nunes said. “When you have people staying at home not taking care of themselves, you will end up with a hell of a lot more people dying by other causes than you will by the coronavirus.”
Nunes tried not to downplay the severity of the outbreak, which has affected more than 200,000 people in the U.S. and killed over 7,000.
“Now, when I say that, that doesn’t mean that we’re not taking this virus seriously. This is a very contagious virus,” he said. “It would have to treat it seriously, but at the same time we need to get folks back to work that can get back to work.”
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As for his criticism on shuttering schools, Newsom said he would “continue to listen to the experts.”
“We’ll continue to listen to the experts and try to avoid some elected officials that frankly may not have the benefit of some of the insight that many of us do,” Newsom told The View via video call.