In response to the coronavirus pandemic, most states in the U.S. now have stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions. Proponents of social distancing have been stressing that such measures are saving lives by limiting the spread of COVID-19, but when Attorney General William Barr appeared on Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle" this week, he described them as "draconian" and implied that they were going too far.
President Donald Trump, after downplaying the severity of coronavirus back in January and February, now recommends keeping social distancing guidelines in place until the end of April — although health officials have been asserting that the measures should remain longer than that. However, Trump has indicated that he would like to start reopening the U.S. economy in May. And Barr told "Ingraham Angle" host Laura Ingraham that officials should be "very careful to make sure that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified."
The U.S. attorney general and Trump loyalist told Ingraham, "When this period of time, at the end of April, expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have, and not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed, but allow them to use other ways — social distancing and other means — to protect themselves."
Unlike France or Italy, the U.S. does not have a nationwide stay-at-home order. Social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders — some stricter than others — have been carried out at the state level or the local level in the U.S.
Barr told Ingraham that when the Trump White House's social distancing guidelines expire at the end of the month, "I think we have to consider alternative ways of protecting people."
The U.S. attorney general defended Trump vigorously during the interview, telling Ingraham — herself a strident defender of the president — that Trump has been unfairly attacked with "snarky, gotcha questions from the White House media pool." And he defended Trump's promotion of hydroxychloroquine (which has been used to treat malaria) as a possible COVID-19 treatment.
"As soon as he said something positive about it," Barr told Ingraham, "the media's been on a jihad to discredit the drug," Barr said.