Former congressman and member of the Heritage Coronavirus Recovery Committee J.C. Watts spoke with the Daily Signal about opening up America, COVID-19 and black Americans, and his organization, the Black News Channel network. An excerpt of that interview:
“Allen: Yeah. Well, and on Monday you all put out … a much more, even more detailed plan that was 47 detailed steps for how we can achieve the first two phases of that five-phase plan. What are some of the critical aspects or steps in that list of recommendations?
“Watts: Well, I think one of the things is that you start by saying governors and local leaders should take the lead in restarting the economy, and should do so as soon as possible. The federal government, Congress, the administration should aid in the recovery by considering flexibility in regulatory leads, funding, which they’ve done, providing equipment and providing information. But, we think it’s critically important that governors and local leaders, that they take charge.
“I think we made the recommendation in saying that the social distancing, that should be relaxed, in some cases. Reopening schools and businesses, returning hospitals to normal should be linked to data about where the disease is prevalent. Counties that have low incident rates should open in a way that would be consistent with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] plans.
“And a lot of communities, and I’m from rural Oklahoma, grew up in rural Oklahoma, rural America, a lot of rural communities, they don’t have access to CDC plans, but you can work with your county and your state health officials who tune in to those CDC recommendations and pay attention to what the surgeon general is saying and work with them to make sure that you have a plan in place that would be protective of the most vulnerable, of the least of these.
“And so, I think those things, making sure if we start with allowing the governors and local leaders to take the lead in restarting the economy, hopefully, they will do it as soon as possible, but also be mindful of doing it not just expeditiously, but doing that safely. And that’s where the CDC, I think, comes into play. … Johns Hopkins, they’d been right in the middle of this and providing data, but use the federal government to support state and local leaders. And I do think that it could be done in a way that’s healthy, and that’s safe, and that would consider lives and livelihoods, which is how you opened our discussion today.”