Pelosi Views Protests Against Shutdown 'Largely As a Distraction'

By Susan Jones | April 20, 2020 | 4:54am EDT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has no "timeline" for reopening the economy. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via  Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has no "timeline" for reopening the economy. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( - As protests erupt across the country -- Americans demanding the return of their liberty and their livelihoods -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is dismissing the protests as "a distraction."

"I wouldn't exaggerate the protests across the country," Pelosi told ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos:

There are some in some places, largely where there's a Democratic governor. But I think of it largely as a distraction and the president's embrace of it as a distraction from the fact that he has not appropriately done testing, treatment, contact tracing, and quarantine.

So -- but just to move on from that, the -- that's why we want the small businesses to thrive, and that's why that was such an important part of the CARES package, so that we could -- that is the lifeblood of our economy, the creation of jobs, the creation of capital and the rest.

But again, the key that opens the door to the economy is testing, testing, testing. We haven't done it right. If, as Dr. Fauci says, if we proceed the right way, then we can do that. But we haven't.

Pelosi also used the word "distraction" on "Fox News Sunday."

Asked if she understands why people object to stringent restrictions imposed by the states, Pelosi said, "No, not really."

Because what we have to do is -- is -- is shelter in place. That is really the answer. Testing, tracing, treatment, shelter-in-place, and I do think that it's unfortunate -- but you know people will do what they do.

But the fact is, we're all impatient. We all want out, but what they're doing is really unfortunate because what is great though is the America -- are the American people. The American people know that the good health of themselves and their families and their loved ones is what is important, and that's why you have seen such an overwhelming commitment to shelter-in-place, distancing -- people distancing.

Because really it is the key to how we will open up our economy. The health issue is the key to opening up the economy. Unfortunately, this -- what you see there is, you know, they're not respectful to whatever people think that they should say, but the fact is, this has to be science-based, evidence-based, data-based and evidence and the science and the data says shelter-in-place, testing, contact testing -- tracing, treatment, quarantine is the answer to opening up our economy sooner.

And I think, by the way, if I just may add. I do think (protest) is a major distraction from testing, testing, testing.

Pelosi said the American people "understand that we have to have a scientific, evidence-based approach to how we go forward, because we can't just go out there and then find out that we went out too soon. And that has to be calibrated, scientifically based, not politically based, or as a distraction to how we should go forward."

ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Pelosi, "What's your best sense right now of when we're going to get back to some semblance of normal here in the United States? I noticed one of your California Mayors, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, said no big crowd events until 2021. Do you agree with that?"

"Well, everybody has to make their determination in their own community," Pelosi said.

"But it has to be based on, again, the evidence and the data of what will work in those communities...I don't know that anybody can give you a timeline. We're prayerful that there will be a cure soon, that there will be a vaccine -- that will take longer. That's really the answer.

"And it is, again, the sooner we commit to shelter-in-place across the board, testing, shelter-in-place, treatment, contact tracing -- that's the path to opening the economy and putting people back to work," Pelosi said.

(A vaccine is a good 18 months away, according to some experts.)

"But again, I praise the American people for their appreciation, what it means to their health, the health of their families and their loved ones, to make the sacrifices necessary. But we all want to get back to work so that people have livelihoods, as well as their lives protected."

A short time later, Stephanopoulos asked Dr. Deborah Birx, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, "What is your message to the protesters out there right now?"

"We've been telling the American people all along that they need to really follow state and local guidelines, and they themselves need to be educated and knowledgeable about this virus," Birx said:

We're not only protecting ourselves but we're protecting each other when we follow the guidelines. That said, every state needs to really do a great job of communicating in local communities, because we know every community is different.

I'd like every American today to go to the Florida public health (web)site, because I had a question yesterday about a specific county in Florida, and I wanted to go in and investigate, and because these outbreaks are very local, the data needs to be analyzed locally.

And so we all should look at the Florida public health site. I think they are doing an extraordinary job keeping their communities informed day by day about where the virus is, where the new cases are. It's divided by county and zip code. They talk about where the testing is available, but they show, in a very transparent way, all the cases.

And I think bringing knowledge to the community is what is going to be critical in ensuring that we get not only through this phase, but the other three phases, and prevent a future outbreak if the virus comes back in the fall.

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