Medical experts continue to warn about the rising death toll that could result from prematurely reopening businesses.
Pete Hegseth, a close ally of Donald Trump and a host on Fox News, argued on Thursday that Americans should "have some courage" and return to going out in public despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Those experts have warned several times that a premature reopening, without sufficient testing and other measures, could lead to thousands more deaths. Already, more than74,000 Americans have died from the virus and more than 1.2 million have been infected.
In advocating for an early return to business, Hegseth invoked the case of a Texas salon owner whose decision to violate that state's stay-at-home orders has made her a cause célèbre on Fox and with Republican lawmakers.
Trump has expressed similar sentiments, pushing for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) to give in to the demands of weapon-carrying protesters who stormed the state Capitol and demanded an end to social distancing measures.
Despite the impact such reopenings could have on public health, Trump hailed the crowd for being "protestors that like me." He also called them "very good people" despite the presence of flags supporting the pro-slavery Confederacy and signs with misogynist attacks on Whitmer.
Hegseth has operated for years as a close adviser to Trump. Trump reportedly turned to Hegseth for direct consultation on how to craft legislation affecting veterans, perhaps because Hegseth is a former Army National Guard officer.
Trump also considered Hegseth early on as a candidate to be his administration's Veterans Affairs secretary. The New York Times noted in 2016 that, "on the campaign trail Mr. Trump echoed many of Mr. Hegseth’s positions,"
From the May 7 edition of Fox News' "Outnumbered":
MELISSA FRANCIS, co-host: Today, I was walking out to the supermarket. I saw the Starbucks reopen, you know. They had balloons out, they're fighting for their business, this franchise owner. They had signs out, they had masks on, they had gloves on, you know. They want to get back to work, and they want to get back to the American way of life and do it safely.
Is that being a warrior?
PETE HEGSETH: At some level. I haven't liked the wartime analogy from the beginning. It's not apt.
I've met, we have a series on Fox Nation called "Modern Warriors." These are the guys and gals who risk their life voluntarily to go to the most dangerous places in the world.
So, I don't love the warrior talk, but I do think you're going to need that kind of ethos and that spirit to put freedom before fear.
Listen, there's a lot of anxiety, there's lot of misinformation. The experts have been telling us hundreds of thousands of people are going to die.
Now that we're learning more, herd immunity is our friend. Healthy people getting out there, they're going to have some courage. And we've seen courage. We're going to talk about it later, in Texas where people are defying ridiculous orders. That takes courage. That's not easy.
So I think that spirit, the American spirit, frankly, is in full supply and ready to go if some of our experts and some of our leaders will just get out of their way, they're drunk on power, it's time to open up. That's my sense.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.