Nunes: California canceling school year is 'way overkill'
Rep. Devin Nunes said Tuesday that California’s decision to cancel the remainder of its school year was "way overkill," again diminishing the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic in a primetime television appearance.
"I mean, look, the schools were just canceled out here in California, which is, you know, way overkill," Nunes, a Republican, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. "I mean, you know, it’s possible kids could’ve went back to school in two weeks to four weeks, but they just canceled the rest of the schools."
Earlier Tuesday, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond had acknowledged in a letter to school district officials that it appeared students "will not be able to return to school campuses" before April, citing the "current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing."
President Donald Trump on Sunday also announced that his administration would prolong through April 30 its social-distancing guidelines, which encourage Americans to "engage in schooling from home whenever possible" and avoid group gatherings of more than 10 people. The extension of the federal guidance came after Trump last week proposed reopening the U.S. economy and resuming daily life in parts of the country by Easter Sunday, a timeline which he newly characterized over the weekend as "aspirational."
At his press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Trump said his administration would work to keep U.S. deaths from the coronavirus to between 100,000 and 240,000, an outcome he and top health officials described as the nation’s best case scenario.
But Nunes, a fierce congressional ally of the White House, seemingly broke with the president on Tuesday, arguing that Americans needed to return to work within the next couple of weeks in order to safeguard the nation’s financial welfare.
"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 we can wait until, you know, the end of April," he said. "I just think, I just don’t know of any economy that’s ever survived where you unplug the entire economy and expect things to go back and be normal."
Nunes also promoted the Food and Drug Administration’s issuance on Sunday of an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs which Trump has championed as potential coronavirus treatments. Top health officials have cautioned that the drugs must undergo more thorough testing to determine their efficacy.
The congressman insisted he was "optimistic" regarding the status of Covid-19 within the U.S., which has become the global epicenter of the outbreak and reported more confirmed cases than anywhere else in the world. More than 4,000 Americans have perished from the disease.
"I think that the drugs that are on the market now, look how quick we were able to get this approved, this new malaria drug that you have been talking about every night. There’s a lot of optimism here that we have in some of these drugs that are coming online," Nunes said.
"So, you know, the more tests that are out there, the more people that are getting testing, let’s learn about the treatments," he added. "Let’s get good data as to who is being impacted, and let’s figure out a way to get back to work."
Nunes was widely criticized for previous remarks he made on Fox News earlier this month, when he contradicted the advice of public health experts by suggesting that Americans venture outside their homes with their families to visit bars and restaurants.
"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," he said, urging people to "go to your local pub."