Fox News host Pete Hegseth, an informal Trump adviser who was once considered to run the Veterans Affairs administration, on Thursday called upon healthy Americans to “have some courage” and leave their homes to get infected by the coronavirus in order to help attain “herd immunity.”
Broadcasting from what appeared to be his home, Hegseth—serving as the female-centric Fox News panel show Outnumbered’s lone male host—weighed in on President Donald Trump using the term “warriors” to describe the American people as he pushes for the country’s economy to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic and the possibility of a surge in deaths.
Saying he didn’t necessarily “love the warrior talk” because he thinks of that word describing “guys and gals that risk their life voluntarily to go to the most dangerous places in the world,” Hegseth went on to applaud that “kind of ethos and that spirit to put freedom before fear.”
After warning that there was a “lot of misinformation” out there from “experts” about coronavirus, Hegseth—who proudly declared last year that he hadn’t washed his hands in 10 years—then said the public needs to get out and mingle.
“Now that we are learning more, herd immunity is our friend,” he exclaimed. “Healthy people getting out there—they are going to have to have some courage!”
Hegseth appears to be referencing Sweden’s experiment with allowing most businesses—including restaurants and bars—to stay open amid the pandemic in an effort to achieve herd immunity, in which a large section of lower-risk populations becomes infected in order to eventually stem the spread. The country, however, has seen a much higher death rate than the surrounding countries that embraced stricter social-distancing restrictions.
Epidemiologists from Johns Hopkins, meanwhile, have laid out just how deadly a push for herd immunity would be for the nation.
“To reach herd immunity for COVID-19, likely 70% or more of the population would need to be immune,” they wrote. “Without a vaccine, over 200 million Americans would have to get infected before we reach this threshold. Put another way, even if the current pace of the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the United States – with over 25,000 confirmed cases a day – it will be well into 2021 before we reach herd immunity. If current daily death rates continue, over half a million Americans would be dead from COVID-19 by that time.”
The Fox host, meanwhile, wrapped up his remarks by telling the government and public health experts to step back so that the nation could be fully reopened.
“I think that spirit to—the American spirit, frankly—is in full supply and ready to go,” he concluded. “If some of our experts and some of our leaders would just get out of their way, they’re drunk on power, it’s time to open up. That’s my sense.”
As the president continues to advocate for a quick reopening, however, data from his own White House reveals that opening up the floodgates now will be a disaster and that just waiting even a couple more weeks could reduce new coronavirus cases by thousands a day.