Connect with us

Politics

HHS secretary Azar: ignoring social distancing ‘part of freedom’

Published

on

Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar said Sunday that Americans ignoring social distancing recommendations amid the novel coronavirus pandemic is “part of the freedom we have.”

Azar appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” after crowds of people had been reported flocking to bars in cities like New York City and Columbus, Ohio over the weekend without masks or social distancing and raising concerns about possible new infections.

“I think in any individual instance you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” Azar told host Jake Tapper. “That’s part of the freedom that we have here in America.”

Azar said though federal officials like Surgeon General Jerome Adams can “give guidance” to Americans, responsibility for official enforcement comes down to local leaders.

“Part of this is going to be if you’re in crowded areas and if you’re in an area that has ongoing community spread of disease, there’s steps you should take,” Azar said. “That’s where our guidance is there for, and we count on local leaders to implement and interpret that according to the local situation.”

Despite standing guidelines, officials have “got to get this economy and our people out and about and working, going to school again because there are serious health consequences” to ongoing lockdown measures that have shuttered economies across the country, Azar added.

Azar also told Tapper that although authorities are largely not seeing spikes in new coronavirus cases in areas that are reopening, local governments are critical decision-makers in weighing reopening businesses and public places.

“These are very localized determinations,” Azar said. “There should not be a one size fits all to reopening but reopen we must because it’s not health versus the economy. It’s health versus healthy.”

Azar’s comments came as governors spoke out to warn against the concerning floods of people spotted at bars.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his Saturday press conference that though half the state is in the first phase of reopening and promising data, New Yorkers should not give up hygienic practices like social distancing.

“We just want to make sure we don’t go back to the hell that we’ve gone through,” he said at the press briefing.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told Tapper Sunday morning that he was “absolutely” alarmed by reports and pictures of crowded bars in Columbus that were open for business over the weekend despite standing guidelines, and officials were working with the attorney general “to do whatever we have to” to anticipate and control crowds breaking quarantine at the state’s businesses.

“Ultimately it’s going to come down to doing what Ohioans have been doing for the last two months,” he said on “State of the Union. “By and large, [people have] done exactly what they should do.”

LoadingSomething is loading.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job

Trending