Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday joined the tally of conservatives saying it’s crucial to restart the U.S. economy, even if that means losing thousands of more lives to COVID-19 as a result.
In an interview on “The Daily DC” podcast, CNN’s Dana Bash asked about new internal government projections that nearly 3,000 people will be dying daily by June 1. He answered that people “are going to have to” swallow the idea of losing thousands of more lives. As social distancing restrictions ease in several states, another model often cited by the White House this week revised fatality projections to more than 134,000 by Aug. 4, almost double the previous estimate.
Christie claimed the “economic devastation” caused by widespread stay-at-home measures due to the pandemic was “equally sad.”
“Of course, everybody wants to save every life they can ― but the question is, towards what end, ultimately?” Christie asked. “Are there ways that we can thread the middle here to allow that there are going to be deaths, and there are going to be deaths no matter what?”
He suggested keeping the elderly and those who have compromised immune systems at home, and limiting large public gatherings like concerts and sports events while letting others get back to work.
Asked for his message if he were in the Oval Office, Christie, who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, said that “the message is that the American people have gone through significant death before” and compared reopening the country to the “sacrifice” made by American soldiers in World War II.
“We sacrificed those lives. We sent our young men during WWII over to Europe, out to the Pacific, knowing, knowing that many of them would not come home alive,” he said. “And we decided to make that sacrifice because what we were standing up for was the American way of life. In the very same way now, we have to stand up for the American way of life.”
It’s not the first time Christie has pushed for the country to reopen before public health experts say it’s safe to do so, and he is one member of a growing list of conservatives who insist that widespread death from coronavirus is a justifiable price to pay for reviving the nation’s economy.
Last month, Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.) claimed the government should “always choose” the economy over American lives, and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that “there are more important things than living” in his own push to reopen businesses.
Despite noting the dramatically increased death projections that same day, President Donald Trump declared Monday that “we have to reopen our country” as quickly as possible.
Christie’s remarks did not sit well with many people: