“There’s a lot of concerns with the economy here because people are scared to go out,” Nunes said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” “But I will just say 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. … Let’s not hurt the working people in this country that are relying on wages and tips to keep their small business going.”
That advice goes against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidelines, which have encouraged people to stay home as much as possible. On Sunday evening, the CDC recommended people nationwide avoid gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. Social distancing — that is, limiting physical contact with other people — will help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, and prevent our health systems from becoming overwhelmed by people suffering from covid-19.
Although coronavirus causes serious symptoms in a small number of people who get infected, particularly the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions, some others may not show any symptoms at all. That means people who think they are healthy could pass the virus on to vulnerable people without realizing it.
Nunes also advised people to go to the bars instead of panic-driven shopping and hoarding items in short supply like bottled water and toilet paper.
“Don’t run to the grocery store and buy, you know, $4,000 of food,” he said. “Go to your local pub.”
Nunes’s constituents in California can’t follow his advice. Shortly after the congressman spoke on Fox News, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ordered bars to close statewide and restaurants to cut their occupancy by half. Similar moves were made in states like Ohio and Illinois, and in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
“We believe that this is a nonessential function in our state,” Newsom said at a news conference Sunday.
The California congressman wasn’t alone.
When Colorado’s ski resorts began turning people away Saturday, the decision irked at least one politician. Florida’s former lieutenant governor Jeff Kottkamp, who had been driving with his family to Vail Resorts when it closed down, took to Twitter to air his grievances.
“Thank you for making this announcement as we are driving in to Vail,” the Republican said in a now-deleted tweet. “Came all the way from Florida only to have our family’s vacation destroyed.”
His disdain got the attention of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D).
“Thank you for your deep concerns regarding the health of our residents in the face of a global pandemic, as well as your heartfelt sympathy for the difficulties faced by those who work in the ski industry and hospitality,” Polis replied.
Kottkamp later clarified in a statement that he didn’t oppose the resort’s decision to close, but he believes Vail Resorts should have “simply given people a week’s notice” like what happened in Florida with Disney World and Universal Studios.
In another instance of people criticizing politicians for setting a bad example, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) posted a photo to social media on Saturday that showed his family eating dinner in a crowded restaurant.
“Eating with my kids and all my fellow Oklahomans,” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet. “It’s packed tonight!”
The next day, Stitt declared a state of emergency as Oklahoma announced its eighth confirmed case of covid-19.
“Life as we know it will change for a little while, but it doesn’t have to shut down completely,” Stitt said, according to the Oklahoman. “Continue to find ways to support your local businesses, pay attention to how you’re feeling and make wise choices based on your risk.”
Despite the economic concerns raised by a handful of politicians, most experts have vigorously encouraged people to stay home, wash hands frequently and take special precautions when in contact with vulnerable people, like those over age 70 and those with preexisting medical conditions.
“For a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the U.S.,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN Sunday morning. “We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”
While Nunes encouraged people to visit local bars and restaurants, another California politician urged people to “ignore the morons” and “stay at home as much as possible.” And he did it while feeding carrots to his ponies, Whiskey and Lulu.
“The important thing is that you’re staying home,” said former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “See, that’s what we do. We don’t go out, we don’t go to restaurants, we don’t do anything like that anymore here. We just eat with Whiskey and Lulu. We have a good time.”