GOP senator admits more people will get sick — but he wants US open anyway


Sen. John Kennedy wants to reopen the economy as soon as possible, in spite of the rising coronavirus death toll.

In a Fox News interview on Wednesday night, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said that the United States should quickly end social distancing efforts to boost the economy, even though it will mean more people will contract COVID-19.

Kennedy likened ongoing safety measures, including social distancing, to "trying to burn down the village to save it."

Instead, he said the nation should quickly reopen, against the advice of public health experts.

"Every politician, myself included sometimes, is just dancing around the issue," he said. "The American people get it: We gotta reopen, and when we do, the coronavirus is gonna spread faster, and we gotta be ready."

Kennedy has been urging the country to reopen for weeks while minimizing the threat of the deadly pandemic.

In a March 23 appearance on the same program, he claimed that "poverty, hunger, [and] losing the entire economy" were the real threats and that COVID-19 can only kill "a small segment of our population."

Kennedy made a similar argument to a different Fox News host last week, saying, "The coronavirus can kill you, but so can poverty, and we have waterboarded the American economy, and we gotta stand it back up."

According to the World Health Organization, people of all ages have died from the disease, including many without preexisting medical conditions. One recent report suggested that, without efforts put in place to curb the coronavirus' spread, it could kill more than 2 million Americans.

But experts say that easing social distancing too soon could make the pandemic much worse.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told CNN on Sunday that "there's an extraordinary risk of there being a rebound" if the economy is immediately reopened all at once.

A Trump administration model, released last week, found that without the mitigation efforts already taken, the U.S. death total could have been 300,000, but that if stay-at-home orders are lifted after just 30 days, the death total could reach 200,000.

According to the CDC, more than 24,000 people have already died from COVID-19 in the U.S. At least 1,103 of those deaths have been in Kennedy's home state of Louisiana.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.