GOP lawmaker ignores health warnings around coronavirus and tells Americans 'it's a great time to go out'

devin nunes

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California.

  • Lawmakers continued to suggest it was safe to patronize public areas amid the increase in coronavirus cases in the US.
  • "One of the things you can do, if you're healthy, you and your family, it's a great time to just go out and go to a local restaurant," Nunes said to Fox Business. "Likely, you can get in easily."
  • Other lawmakers faced backlash for portraying themselves in crowded places, despite the health warnings.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated there were over 3,000 coronavirus cases and at least 60 deaths, a dramatic increase as health officials advised people to conduct "social distancing" and to avoid public areas.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Lawmakers on Sunday continued to suggest it was safe to patronize public areas amid the increase in coronavirus cases in the US. The statements came as National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, explicitly expressed a desire to see a "dramatic diminution of the personal interaction."

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California cited concerns with local businesses not being able to weather the decrease in sales due to lower customer turnout amid the public health warnings.

"One of the things you can do, if you're healthy, you and your family, it's a great time to just go out and go to a local restaurant," Nunes said to Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo in an interview. "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," he added. "Just don't run to the grocery store and buy $4,000 of food. Go to your local pub."

Other lawmakers faced backlash for portraying themselves in crowded places, despite the health warnings. Republican Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt on Twitter uploaded a picture of himself with two kids at a food hall in Oklahoma City on Saturday.

"Eating with my kids and all my fellow Oklahomans at the @CollectiveOKC," Stitt said in a photo caption. "It's packed tonight!"

Stitt's tweet was removed, but a spokesman said the governor "will continue to take his family out to dinner and to the grocery store without living in fear and encourages Oklahomans to do the same," according to the Associated Press.

trump anthony fauci

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty

President Donald Trump looks on as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 outbreak at the White House on February 26, 2020.

The US has reported over 60 deaths and more than 3,200 coronavirus cases across at least 49 states and Washington, DC, a dramatic increase as health officials advised people to conduct "social distancing" and to avoid public areas. Other countries, such as China and Italy, imposed strict, mandatory lockdowns to deal with its coronavirus cases.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency on Friday, freeing up $50 billion to assist in handling the influx of coronavirus-related cases.

"I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction we see in restaurants and in bars," Fauci said to CNN on Sunday. "Whatever it takes to do that, that's what I'd like to see."

Some lawmakers explicitly warned their constituents not to go out to public and crowded spaces amid the ongoing health crisis.

"To everyone in NYC but ESPECIALLY healthy people & people under 40 ([because] from what I'm observing that's who needs to hear this again): PLEASE stop crowding bars, restaurants, and public spaces right now," Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet on Saturday. "Eat your meals at home. If you are healthy, you could be spreading COVID."

Rep. Nune's broader point about the struggling small businesses' was also addressed by Ocasio-Cortez, who urged the Trump administration to "take decisive action NOW to protect restaurant workers, small businesses, & other vulnerable workers."

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas concurred with Ocasio-Cortez and replied, "Good advice - not just for NYC, but everywhere. If you can stay home, stay home. And wash your hands."

Despite previously signaling optimism over controlling the coronavirus in the US, the Trump administration took executive action by declaring a national emergency, following the stock market's historic drop. On Monday, the S&P 500 index dropped 7% at the start of trading, triggering the 15-minute "circuit breaker" stop in trading.

The House on Saturday passed a bill to lessen the economic impact, which includes a paid sick leave program granting two weeks of leave; and unemployment benefits for people who live in states that see a 10% increase in unemployment. The bill now heads to the Senate, and then to Trump's desk.

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