Stephen Moore, the conservative economist who sits on President Donald Trump's economic task force, suggested people wear spacesuits during the coronavirus pandemic, before later calling it a "crazy idea." Moore also advocated for a "more surgical" approach at shutting down the nation's economy during the crisis in a new interview with The New York Times. Moore also voiced support for protesters calling for an end to the "stay at home" policies, comparing them to Rosa Parks in another interview.
During the new Times interview, Moore was asked about data showing minorities are more likely to die from the coronavirus. Moore noted that minorities "tend to be living in major cities where they're living close together." He later explained, "We can use really good public safety measures, social distancing the workforce, disinfectants everywhere, masks. I was thinking this morning, and this is just kind of a thought experiment because I was thinking about this — why don't we just put everybody in a space outfit or something like that? No. Seriously, I mean..."
The Times pointed out that if everyone was going to wear space suits, the country would have to start making them. "I know we don't have space outfits [laughter]— I mean, just thinking out loud, and maybe this is a crazy idea, but instead of just locking down the economy, putting everybody in a kind of — you’re right," Moore said.
Moore said it would cost "$3 trillion" to make 200 million spacesuits. "You can have for months people just walking around in these kind of — I mean, I was looking online, and there are all these kinds of suits that they're building now that you’re not exposed and you’re breath — kind of ventilator," he said.
Moore served as an adviser during Trump's presidential campaign and advised the administration on writing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Last year, Trump nominated Moore to join the Federal Reserve Board, but his nomination was pulled after bipartisan criticism of his past comments on women and his economic track record. Nevertheless, Moore continues to advise Trump as a member of the president's economic task force.
Moore told the Times he did not agree with all metropolitan areas using similar guidelines. "Everybody can look at the map. And there’s a severe breakout in about 15 major metropolitan areas. And any pandemic is an urban experience, right? So the idea of having a policy in Lincoln, Nebraska, or Des Moines, Iowa, or Boise, Idaho, that’s the same as New York City is ridiculous," he said. "What we should have done all along is really done this in a more surgical way rather than having a widespread shutdown."
However, Moore said he could not argue with public health officials who pointed out that the virus has not spread in some cities because of the social distancing. "I’m not a public health official," he said. "Maybe I've got this wrong, but it’s because people get these diseases in congested areas. So in the middle of Little Washington, Va., you're not having people crowded together. So you don’t need the same kind of measures in a little town like that as you do in New York City or Chicago or Detroit."
The U.S. now has more than 890,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday afternoon, reports Johns Hopkins University. More than 50,890 deaths have been reported, with more than 96,677 patients recovering. Over 4.69 million tests have been conducted.