Former CDC director: Lifting mask mandates is ‘simply wrong’ and ‘very dangerous’

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This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday” March 7, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


The Democratic-controlled Congress is one step closer to passing COVID
relief, delivering on President Biden’s top campaign promise.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER:  Unity. Unity. Unity. That’s
how we got this done.


WALLACE (voice-over):  So what’s in the package for struggling Americans,
schools, and businesses?

package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent
needs of the nation.

WALLACE:  While Republicans question whether this is emergency relief or a
Democratic wish list.

domestic legislation in a generation.

WALLACE:  We’ll talk with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin who has staked out
a position as the most powerful member of Congress.

Then —

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS:  It is now time to open Texas 100 percent.

WALLACE:  Governors in both parties and pandemic lockdowns and the
president pushes back.

BIDEN:  The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.

WALLACE:  We’ll ask Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson about starting to lift
restrictions in his state and former CDC Director Tom Frieden about whether
some states are moving too soon.

Plus, growing calls to impeach New York’s governor over his handling of
COVID nursing home deaths and accusations of sexual harassment. We’ll ask
our Sunday panel whether Cuomo will survive the twin scandal.

And our Power Player of the Week, the head of Peloton on how the pandemic
gave his bikes a big push.

All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday.” 



WALLACE (on camera):  And hello again from FOX News in Washington.

President Biden’s push for his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package is now in
the home stretch after the Senate approved the measure Saturday in a
straight party line 50-49 vote. The legislation includes funding for
vaccine supplies and distribution, along with a new round of stimulus for
families, businesses, and state and local governments.

Democrats hope to get the bill through the House and put it on the
president’s desk before some benefits expire a week from today.

In a moment, we’ll speak with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin who voted
for the bill after reaching a deal late Friday over unemployment aid.

But first, let’s bring in Mike Emanuel on Capitol Hill with what happens


BIDEN:  It’s a good day today.

MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  President Biden is a
step away from a major legislative accomplishment, but recognizes he must
keep his fellow Democrats together as it heads back to the House.

BIDEN:  As Bernie Sanders said, this is the most progressive bill he’d ever
seen pass in history since he’s been here.

EMANUEL:  The legislation is so large, it’s $1.9 trillion in spending is
nearly one-tenth of the U.S. economy.

SCHUMER:  Nobody said passing one of the largest, perhaps the most
significant bill to help the poor and working people in decades was going
to be easy.

EMANUEL:  And it wasn’t. It took more than 24 hours to pass the legislation
in the Senate and last-minute negotiations to get West Virginia Senator Joe
Manchin on board. Now $300 in enhanced on employment benefits will be paid
through Labor Day.

Republicans unanimously rejected the massive funding package but could not
stop it.

MCCONNELL:  The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way
or through a less rigorous process.


EMANUEL (on camera):  The House is expected to take up this legislation on
Tuesday. Democrats there can only lose four votes and still pass it. So,
leadership will seek to move swiftly to send it to the president’s desk for
his signature — Chris.

WALLACE:  Mike Emanuel reporting from Capitol Hill — Mike, thanks for

And joining us now, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who’s become the key
swing vote in Congress.

Senator, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday.”

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV):  Hey, Chris. It’s always good to be with you.
Thank you for having me.

WALLACE:  On Friday, you held up this COVID relief package for the better
part of ten hours over a dispute on unemployment benefits.

Were you really prepared to tank this bill, President Biden’s top
legislative priority, if you didn’t get what you wanted?

MANCHIN:  Absolutely not. That’s not how negotiations should go and that
should never be the intent of anybody. There was nothing that I wanted more
than to have a balanced bill. And that is something that came into it at
the last minute. I thought it was something that more than what we ever
agreed on or intended.

And when they talk about this being strictly a Democrat bill and no
bipartisan, I worked with my colleagues and my friends on the Republican
side for the last month all the way through. A lot of the things I was able
to get into that bill and target the bill the way we talked about came
because of negotiations at talks with my Republican and Democratic

So when that happened, Chris, I just said hold on, if we stay at $300 for
unemployment, it’s seamless, no one misses a paycheck, not at all, and
basically, we were doing so much more with child tax credits, we were
helping every family and there’s got to be a balance and I’m in that modern
middle I guess, it’s not real crowded, Chris, I can assure you, but we just
try to make it all come to fruition, and it did, and that’s the way
negotiations should go.

WALLACE:  Senator, if — Senator, if you had all this Republican input into
the bill, if you’ve been talking to them for a month, why didn’t any of
your Republican colleagues vote for it? Was it just pure politics?

MANCHIN:  No, it wasn’t just my politics or Democrat politics. It was maybe
a little bit more than what they thought they could have done on the amount
of money that was going in investing. What we were able to target, we
strung it out.

We didn’t just throw it all at one time, so we were able to say, okay,
first time in history, now a little town or community or county, wherever
it be in America, can have some control of their destiny fixing water and
sewer, Internet service. It’s going to go out to 2024 on that, the tranches
of money going out helping people long term, fixing the school systems,
making them safe, all the things.

There might have been more than what they thought was needed at this time,
but truly, they had input with me and they knew that, and we worked
together, Democrats and Republicans, until the final passage and then it
was  my — more than what maybe they could have voted and supported, but
they did have input, I can assure you.

WALLACE:  But let’s talk about the bill and this question of the amount of
aid that you gave. The Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office came out
with an estimate that the economy was down only $600 billion to $700
billion because of the pandemic, and yet this bill gives $1.9 trillion,
triple almost what the CBO says you really need.

That raises the question, one, is this bill going to overheat the economy
and create inflation? And two, as you point out, it isn’t all just this
year, it’s out four, five, some of the money doesn’t get spent until 2030.
So, is this really COVID relief or is this a Democratic wish list?

MANCHIN:  No. COVID relief is more than just the vaccines. The vaccine is
the most urgent thing we can do. Keeping people able to stay in their homes
is absolutely as urgent as anything else we do, and we did all of that.

COVID relief means are you going to be able to move on, have the economy
move on as strong as you want to, not have a lapse in that? That’s why we
were able to target it and move out some. I’m hoping economists look at
that too.

President Biden was concerned because he was there in 2009, I was not. I
was still governor at that time. When they do the Recovery Act and they
thought they didn’t do it quick enough.

I basically reminded people, that was a financial collapse, this is a
health care pandemic. It’s much different. We will come out of this.

I want to make sure the workforce is ever ready to go too, Chris, and
that’s why we wanted to make sure that we didn’t basically just throw every
thing at one time. We’re going to make sure that we’re recovering in 2022
also so we don’t have a lapse or a relapse.

WALLACE:  But what about this argument that the economy is only down $700
billion only, but it’s down $700 billion and you’re spending $1.9 trillion,
and that you may end up overheating the economy and causing inflation, sir?

MANCHIN:  Well, I hope we don’t, I don’t think we will because, again, as I
said, we spread it out. We didn’t throw (ph) it all at one time.

They’re saying we’re going to spend $1.9 trillion on top of what we’ve
already spent in his one year, there might be some concerns about that, or
there should be, I’m sure. I’m concerned now more about the debt that we’re
accumulating and we’ve been accumulating through all different types of
different administrations.

It’s time to get our financial house in order, I’m in that modern — middle
and common sense is not real common sometimes in Washington but we can come
together, we have too. So, we’re watching this very carefully but I can
assure you, we have helped every segment of society right now, more so than
ever before with this piece of targeted legislation, and I’m going to be
monitoring and watching as close as long as my other friends will too.

WALLACE:  You kept talking about the moderate middle, do you like being the
most powerful member of Congress, the swing vote in a 50/50 Senate? Do you
like that, sir?

MANCHIN:  No, I do not, and I did not lobby for this, did not seek it out.
The bottom line is I am who I am and I’m always been that person, to try to
find the middle of common sense.

My state of West Virginia expects that. They know me that — they know me
as that. They’re good people, and we just try to do things in a rational,
common sense way.

So I’ve said this about power, Chris. I’ve seen people who have had power
that have abused it, I’ve seen people that sought power that destroyed
themselves trying to get it and I’ve seen people that seize the moment.

If I can seize this moment and start healing our country, helping our
president bring our country together, listening to all sides and making a
decision that doesn’t intend to harm anybody and don’t play the tribal
politics. It’s just not who I am.

And I can’t — I am who I am, I’m not going to change, and I think that
hopefully people understand that and they give me the flexibility and
understand that, and I appreciate that. I know it’s difficult for some
people to understand.

This is who I am. I’m just Joe from West Virginia.

WALLACE:  Well, let’s talk about just Joe, because you have staked out this
position and you were doing it in November right after the election. I want
to put up some of the positions you’ve taken, breaking with your party.

You said early on, you would not be the 50th Democrat to end the
filibuster. You’d not be the 50th Democrat to pack the Supreme Court. And
so far, whether it’s the $15 minimum wage or Neera Tanden’s nomination,
you’ve broken with your party.

You just put up — you just said the quote I was going to put it up on the
screen because you said it before about power and what it can do to people.

The question I guess I have — here’s the quote: I have watched people
destroyed — watched power destroyed people, good people because they
abused it.

Look, I love talking to you, Senator, but you are on four Sunday shows
today, and the question I have is, are you enjoying your position of power
may be a little too much?

MANCHIN:  I sure hope not. Oh, my goodness. I would be — that would be
horrible. That’s not, no.

I want to make sure people understand, I am in that common sense middle,
that’s who I am. It happened to come down to 50/50, this doesn’t happen
that often in our political posturing or governing, and I hope it doesn’t
come around again for a long time.

We need to find a way to work together. That’s all I’m trying to do. I’m
not taking advantage of any moment at all, but if I can seize the moment
and make you understand, hold on, we’re not going to just blow things up,
we’re not going to destroy the Senate the Founding Fathers decided would be
the most deliberate body unusual for any other form of government in the
world and the history has ever known.

Seize the moment and fix what has gone wrong. Why do we go so right and so
left? We don’t run our lives from the extreme. You always try to find that
moderate middle to make decisions, to run your life, to enjoy your family,
to make sure that you’re able to prosper and move forward.

You can’t do that from the extremes, that’s all and now we’ve pushed apart.
Maybe social media, I don’t know what’s doing it but when people can talk
about people without looking them in the eye, shaking their hand and giving
them their word and that’s who you are and stick with that, I don’t know,
maybe it’s old-fashioned West Virginia. It’s the way I was raised, Chris.

WALLACE:  So, Senator, let me ask you one last question because going
forward, one of the things that you staked out very early on, I’ve only got
about two minutes here — 


WALLACE:  — is that you would not end the filibuster.

The question I have is, would you consider if the Republicans just won’t go
along with anything, reforming the filibuster? For instance, the filibuster
doesn’t apply now to either budget rules, budget — that’s why you had this
reconciliation, budget issues, or to nominations.

Would you consider extending exemptions to other issues? Or would you
consider going back to the old filibuster, sort of like Mr. Smith goes to
Washington and Jimmy Stewart — 


WALLACE:  — where you want to filibuster, it’s not an automatic 60 votes.
You’ve got to stay on the Senate floor and keep talking.

MANCHIN:  The filibuster should be painful. It really should be painful.
And we have — we’ve made it more comfortable over the years, not
intentionally, may it just evolved into that. Maybe it has to be more
painful. Maybe you have to stand there. There’s things we can talk about.

But, Chris, whenever you take away in the Senate the ability for the
minority, however it may be, Democrats or Republicans to have input, why do
have two senators in Rhode Island and two senators in New York or
California? Why is there one body that treats everyone, hopefully, the
ability to intervene, the ability to be involved, the ability to represent
no matter how large or small?

That’s so the big person doesn’t take advantage of a smaller person or a
person in not just stature but in their position. That’s what this is all
about. And I’m going to fight for that.


WALLACE:  But just to be — but just to be clear, with 30 seconds left — 


WALLACE:  — you would consider making it harder to invoke the filibuster
so that you just don’t automatically have 60 votes that you need for any

MANCHIN:  I’d make it harder to get rid of the filibuster. I’m supporting
the filibuster. I’m going to continue to support the filibuster.

I think it defines who we are as a Senate. I’ll make it harder to get rid
of it but it should be painful if you want to use it. You should make sure
the place works to where, okay, I want to work with you, how can we do
this, how do we move forward?

My Republicans are my friends. They’re not my enemies. And my Democrats is
my colleagues, they’re not my enemy either. That’s my caucus.

Together, we’ve got to make this place work and it should be harder to
invoke pain. It should be painful for us, don’t make it painful for the
other side.

WALLACE:  Senator Manchin, thank you. Thanks for your time after a very
busy few days, and we’ll be watching the bill’s progress on the Hill this

MANCHIN:  Thank you, Chris. It’s a great piece of legislation. It’s going
to help Americans for a long time.

WALLACE:  Thank again — thanks to you again.

Up next, some states are bucking the recommendations of public health
officials and lifting COVID restrictions. We’ll talk with one of those
governors when we come right back.


WALLACE:  It’s been a year since states started shutting down businesses,
limiting gatherings and mandating masks and now, several states have
announced those days are coming to an end.

Joining us from Little Rock, Arkansas Republican Asa Hutchinson, vice chair
of the National Governors Association and, Governor, welcome back to Fox
News Sunday.

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR):  Great to be with you, Chris.

WALLACE:  Last month, you changed your public health state directives to
guidelines, changed them in effect from mandatory to optional so now
restaurants, bars, gyms, and other businesses in Arkansas can be open even
to 100 percent capacity. Why did you do that, sir?

HUTCHINSON:  Well, you emphasized the key point, and that is that it’s been
a year. And during the course of the last year, we’ve educated the public
as to what’s required on public health. Our businesses have taken the right
measures in place. We’ve had a mask mandate in place and there’s just a
limit as to how much the restrictions can be placed on business and for how
long. They’ve struggled, they’ve suffered, and so we wanted to give more

It’s not the immediate ending of everything. We still have our guidelines
in place and actually there is an incentive to keep control of the
facilities because that gives you business tort liability immunity if you
follow some of those guidelines, and so we’re not having a cliff (ph) here.

We keep the emergency in place, our mask mandate is in place until the end
of the month and I asked our public health folks to give me specific
criteria as to when we can lift that and we agreed upon the criteria that
the public knows that we can lift that mask mandate, hospitalization’s
down, vaccines going out, testing is in place, positivity rate down.

WALLACE:  So I want to pick up on that, because while you have relaxed the
opening of businesses, you are not ending the mask mandate until the end of
this month and then only if the state stays under current COVID spreads —
COVID numbers.

Why didn’t you go along with the governors of your neighboring states, of
Texas and Mississippi, which are ending the mask mandate right now?

HUTCHINSON:  Well, this just reflects that governors can do it different
ways. Flexibility, I think, is the model of our states. But for me and
Arkansas, I wanted to set a goal and give people hope that we can end the
mask mandate if we get to these — this place and where we feel more
comfortable that our hospitalizations are still down, and so we wanted an
off-ramp, we didn’t want a cliff. I wanted an off-ramp.

So we set our goals and expectations, the public knows exactly what we have
to do to lift that mandate. Of course, it would be converted to a guideline
and I think masks are going to be with us for some time, but at some point,
we have to rely upon common sense and good judgment versus mandates and,
particularly, when it comes to our businesses. They want to be able to do
the right thing with their patrons and customers, but they want to be able
to have some flexibility and that’s critically important and that’s we’re
giving them, hope and flexibility.

WALLACE:  Governor, in this plan, which does make it no longer mandatory,
in terms of the businesses to reopen 100 percent, you’re going against the
guidance of President Biden and his top public health officials. I want you
to take a look at what they said this week.


BIDEN:  The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime
everything is fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF NIAID:  It really is quite risky to
completely remove all of the public health measures and just act like
there’s no virus in the community when we know it is at an unacceptably
high level.


WALLACE:  Governor, why do you think that you know better than the experts?

HUTCHINSON:  Well, of course, if you relied simply upon strict public
health guidelines, they would love to have a shelter in place for a year,
which we cannot do as a society, and so you have to balance what our public
health dictates with the reality that we have to move, we have to get back
to school.

And President Biden is a perfect example of this. You know, he is leading
by encouraging people to take the virus seriously, but at the same time,
he’s saying vigorously, let’s open our schools. Well, there’s risks to
opening the schools, but it’s a risk that is very, very important because
we need to have in-classroom instruction.

And I’m proud of my state, of Arkansas, that we went back to school last
August and September with in-classroom instruction and then the president
says, we need to vaccinate all the teachers. Well, we did that. We moved
them up on our priority list early on. And so that’s important for
governors to be able to lead their state. It’s — and I don’t think it’s
fair to say it’s Neanderthal-type thinking.

The history of our country from the Boston Tea Party is freedom, protesting
against over taxation, government control, and so it’s pretty natural to
have a sensitivity to freedom-loving Americans that say, we’ll do the right
thing, we know what to do, just give us our freedom back and lift some of
these mandates.

That’s the nature of America and I understand that. That’s not caveman
thinking, that’s common sense.

WALLACE:  But let me just press one more time on this issue of public
health. There’s no question that Arkansas is in much better shape than you
were during that big, terrible spike around the country in January but
you’re still not out of the woods.

And I want to put up the latest numbers on the situation in Arkansas. The
average of new cases in your state is 373 new cases per day.
Hospitalizations, 420. And according to the CDC, Arkansas ranks 45th out of
the 50 states in the number of COVID vaccinations per capita.

Given all of that, Governor, is this the right time to take your foot off
the brake?

HUTCHINSON:  It’s a good question, and that’s the reason we didn’t end the
emergency, that’s the reason I have a ramp. If we see the cases spike up,
if we see the hospitalizations go up, then we can reinstitute the mask
mandate because it’s a ramp, it goes until March 31st with specific
guidelines. We can take the action that’s needed.

And so we’re not out of the woods, but at the same time, the key is
hospitalizations and because of improved therapeutics and because of the
vaccines, because we have more people following guidelines and taking it
seriously, we’re in a pretty good position. If it goes the wrong direction,
we can take the steps necessary. But people have to have hope.

This has been a year and we have to give them hope that we can work our way
out of this emergency. We’ve got a good balance and a good plan in

WALLACE:  Finally, I want to get to this philosophical issue. I’ve only got
about two minutes here, Governor.

But you talk about freedom and I understand that and I understand people
chafing at not being able to lead their own lives. But you know, we keep
speed limits and we keep seat belt laws even though people clearly
understand the benefits of both.

Don’t you worry that on the one hand yes, freedom, but on the other hand,
this may change people — when they get the word from the governor of the
state, you know, you can go back 100 percent and within a few weeks you’re
going to be able to take off your masks, that it may change people’s

HUTCHINSON:  We have to be careful about that, you’re absolutely right and
we don’t want to send the wrong signals. But whenever you look at the
necessity of these mandates and the business restrictions — sure, we have
seat belt laws. That can be a permanent thing. But I don’t think you want
to keep a business that put in an investment that they could be at 100
percent capacity and you hold them at 50 percent or 75 percent. You have to
be able to give that flexibility in gyms, salons.

And so lifting those restrictions, converting them to guidelines is a good
balanced step that we can take. The mask mandate, people understand —
right now people can protect themselves. If you go out and people aren’t
wearing a mask, keep your distance from them, you wear a mask. If you have
restaurants that are not following the guidelines, well go to a restaurant
that is following guidelines. People can make good decisions.

WALLACE:  Governor, thank you. Thanks for coming in today. It’s always good
to talk with you, sir.

HUTCHINSON:  Thank you, Chris. Great to be with you today.

WALLACE:  Up next, we’ll get reaction to what some states are doing from
the former head of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden joins us next.


WALLACE:  Coming up, the Biden administration is taking heat for a surge of
unaccompanied minors at the border.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  We believe that the humane
approach is to treat this kids with humanity and — and insure that they
have a safe place to be.


WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel about the fallout from the president’s
immigration policies. 


WALLACE: As states lift restrictions a year into the pandemic lockdowns,
are some of them moving too quickly?

Joining us now, Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease

Doctor, you just heard Governor Hutchinson talk about lifting mandatory
restrictions in his state. You see with the governors of Texas and
Mississippi are doing, both on restrictions for businesses and they are
also lifting the mask mandates this week.

Your reaction to all of that.

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: Well, first off, I think, Chris, it
is true, we are really sick and tired of this virus. And there’s a lot of
good news coming. More vaccines, more people getting vaccines, more options
for vaccines and really good data that vaccination is making a big
difference. So I would make a big distinction between reopening the economy
and lifting mask mandates. One of them you could debate. The other is
simply wrong.

WALLACE: Well, explain that a little bit.


WALLACE: Clearly you think that opening businesses is — is debatable but –
– but lifting the mask mandates is flat wrong?

FRIEDEN: That’s right. And — and this is the way to think about it. There
are a lot of harms to closing businesses, not just economic harms,
educational harms when it comes to schools, personal hardship, health harms
from people not having work. So it’s really important to get our economy
open again as safely as possible.

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily open everything. For example, an indoor stadium
with people coming from all over, that’s a really bad idea.

On the other hand, masks, you know, the only freedom a mask inhibits is the
freedom of the virus to spread and kill people. Masks work. Mask mandates
work. And lifting mask mandates is very dangerous, particularly with the
risk of more dangerous variants emerging and spreading.

WALLACE: But let’s talk about this, because this isn’t just Mississippi and
Texas. There’s a push in this area across the country. I’m going to put up
two maps for you to take a look at, Doctor. The first one is, this week, 16
states, all run by Republican governors across the south and the Midwest
and some of the Rocky Mountains states, 16 states all run by Republican
governors will either have lifted mask mandates or never had them. And all
50 states, all 50 run by Republican and Democratic governors, will be
either mostly or partly open for business, and some of them at 100 percent

Is that — clearly on the masks you think it’s too much too soon. On the
opening businesses, are you concerned that that’s moving too fast,
particularly 100 percent capacity in — in gyms and restaurants and bars?

FRIEDEN: Well, interestingly, Chris, those two things are related. If you
keep a mask mandate in place, you’ll be able to open more and be more
likely to keep it open without risk to people, not just to other customers,
but the workers there as well.

I do worry about restaurants and bars where people may be speaking loudly
without masks on. And you really do have to focus — you know, the governor
said, well, if you don’t want to go into a restaurant where people aren’t
wearing masks, you can go to a different restaurant, not if you’re the
waiter. If you’re the waiter, yes, you can wear a mask but you’re must
safer if the customers wear a mask when they’re not eating, obviously, and
you wear a mask.

So mask mandates are a way of preserving our health and our economy.

WALLACE: Doctor, as we said in — in the last segment, President Biden is
coming down pretty hard on — on these governors who are — are relaxing
restrictions. His famous phrase this week “Neanderthal thinking.” But the
day after Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, noted that with a lot of
people right now coming across the border illegally into this country, that
108 people who had been released in Brownsville, Texas, had tested positive
for the COVID virus and Governor Abbott continued on with this.

Take a look.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The Biden administration was exposing Texans to
COVID. That is a Neanderthal-type approach to dealing with the COVID


WALLACE: Doctor, is this the right time to be relaxing immigration
restrictions and allowing more people to come across the border and more
people to be released into the country when you’re in the midst of a public
health crisis?

FRIEDEN: Well, let’s get the numbers straight here. The United States has
more than 50,000 cases a day diagnosed and probably two or three times that
many actually occurring every day. The vast majority, 99.999 percent of the
infections spread in the U.S. arise in the U.S.
Let’s focus on getting our house in order. And we can do that by masking
up, doubling down on protection protocols, vaccinating the moment it’s your
turn. And as we do that, Chris, over the next few months, we will get to a
much safer situation, we will get to a new normal.

But I think masks are going to be a part of that normal for many months to
come. That’s the sensible thing to do, to get our kids back in school,
people back to work, and our economy moving again.

WALLACE: But I — you talk about the fact that we’re headed in the right
direction. I want to put up some video on the screen because, as you well
know, this is spring break time and there are a lot of young people who are
flocking to Florida, congregating on beaches. This is one of the more
sedate — ah, this is a bitter picture of people in bars at spring break.

Does that worry you? Is this your worst nightmare?

FRIEDEN: It does worry me.

Chris, what we’d seen every time there’s been a holiday with people
traveling and mixing, we’ve seen a big surge in cases after. Right now the
— the main question that we have to know is, is there going to be a fourth
surge in this country or not? We’ve had three deadly surges. Will we have a
fourth? And the answer to that — the answer to that is something we can
control by masking up and avoiding sharing indoor air with people not in
your household.

WALLACE: Dr. Frieden, thank you. Thanks for joining us. Please come back,

FRIEDEN: Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, calls for impeachment grow over New York Governor Andrew
Cuomo’s nursing home scandal and allegations of sexual harassment. Can he
survive? We’ll ask our Sunday group.

That’s next.  



GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It was unintentional and I truly and deeply
apologize for it.

CHARLOTTE BENNETT, CUOMO ACCUSER: I thought, he’s trying to sleep with me.
The governor is trying to sleep with me. And I’m deeply uncomfortable and I
have to get out of this room as soon as possible.


WALLACE: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo responding to allegations of sexual
harassment and Charlotte Bennett, who is one of now four women who accuse
Cuomo of inappropriate behavior as a third former aide came forward late

And it’s time now force our Sunday group. Marc Short, former chief of staff
to Vice President Mike Pace , Julie Pace, Washington bureau chief for the
Associated Press, and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams.

Well, Governor Cuomo — let’s put up on the screen all of the problems he
faces because it is not just these allegations of sexual harassment now
from four women. He also faces federal and state investigations of whether
his office covered up the number of nursing home residents who died of
COVID and the state legislature just voted to strip Cuomo of emergency
powers in the pandemic.

Julie, what are you hearing from top Democrats, both in Washington and in
New York, about Cuomo and all of his problems?

have a lot of allies among Democrats right now, not a lot of people
rallying around him to support him in this moment. But you also aren’t
seeing a lot of Democrats, with a couple of exceptions, calling for his
resignation. The party line at the moment is basically, let’s let this
independent investigation of these sexual misconduct allegations move
forward. We feel that these are inappropriate actions on the part of the
governor, but we want to see what comes out of this investigation.

I do think that this is Democrats and society at large grappling with where
the line is right now. What is an action that is so inappropriate, that is
so egregious that a public official can no longer stay in office.

But I do think to your — to your opening here, I think it’s important to
note that Cuomo is not just facing these sexual misconduct allegations. The
— the allegations of cooking the books essentially on nursing home deaths
is really serious and I think that gets to the heart of just his overall
leadership of the — of the state of New York through this pandemic and I
think you’re going to increasingly see a lot of attention focused in that
direction as well.

WALLACE: Marc, you spend enough time in Washington, and I — I hate to be
cynical about it, you get a pretty good sense of how these scandals are
going to play out and whether the person at the center of them is going to
survive or not.

What’s your sense of this scandal — actually two scandals?

that the sexual harassment allegations are serious and should be
investigated. But probably on the — on the nursing home, a little more
knowledge because of our relationship during — managing the crisis. And I
think that the — the — the lack of leadership is really shocking here and
I think the cover-up is very serious.

The reality is that Governor Cuomo sent sick COVID patients back into
nursing homes and infected other people and lives were lost because of
those decisions. It’s hard to think of any state that received more federal
assistance during COVID than New York from the Trump-Pence administration.
Whether or not that was ventilators or refurbishing the stockpiles, it was
also basically the federal government creating a hospital in the Javits
Center, sending the USS Comfort up to New York to be in the harbor for
additional beds. There were all sorts of options he had. He made a wrong
decision and now there are allegation he actually covered up and lied about
the number of COVID deaths that actually occurred within the nursing homes
because of his decisions.

Those are incredibly serious allegations and I — I think he’s on a very
tenuous standing.

WALLACE: Juan, and I think Marc Short is a pretty good example of that,
Democrats are having a field day with the problems that Cuomo is having.
First of all, they say liberals were far too slow to recognize that Cuomo
made a serious mistake when he issued this directive that seniors who were
in nursing — or were in hospitals should be sent back to nursing homes.
And then there’s the whole question of cooking the books. And they also
note the fact that, you know, it wasn’t so long ago that liberals were
saying, you know, if a woman accuser comes forward — they certainly said
this about Brett Kavanaugh, she must be believed. Now they’re a little
slower to say that, maybe a lot slower to say it when it comes to Andrew

home scandal, I think you would know that the New York Assembly, state
senator as well, they’ve limited Governor Cuomo’s powers right now with
regard to how the pandemic is handled. So they’re raining him in. They’re
holding him to a higher level of accountability.

And, by the way, I think that’s just bad decision-making. I don’t know that
there’s anything illegal. Clearly people died and there’s a terrible price
for all families who lost a loved one to pay, but it was a decision. So, I
mean, I’m still curious as to what exactly anyone could say that was done

But on the sexual-harassment side, you have the New York attorney general,
a Democrat, by the way, who is now going to have an independent
investigation with subpoena power for documents and for witnesses, Chris. I
think the pressure for that independent probe, by the way, came from both
senators, both Democrats. It also came from New York’s mayor, Bill de
Blasio, who is no friend to Governor Cuomo and, again, members of the state
assembly and state senate.

So, you’re seeing a lot of Democrats who I think are resistant to the idea
of a fourth term for Governor Cuomo and who see him as a bully and who’s
run them over, Democrats I’m talking about, who are saying, you know, maybe
not now. I would also add that if you look at the latest Quinnipiac poll
done this week after both scandals had emerged, most New Yorkers are not
calling on him to resign. They don’t want him to run again, but they’re not
calling on him to resign right now.

So I think we have to keep all this in mind and also, I would say, you
know, I don’t see any independent investigation of Donald Trump and he
faced far more serious charges of sexual assault, you know, even more than
that, and I don’t see those kinds of calls coming from Republicans.

WALLACE: Well, I — I — yes, but on the other hand I don’t know that we
could say that Donald Trump went uninvestigated over the course of his four
years in the presidency between the special counsel and two impeachments.

Anyway, let’s move on to this quite serious question about this surge of
unaccompanied minors across the border.

The Biden administration seems determined to kind of play it down.

Take a look at this exchange this week.


QUESTION: Do you believe that right now there’s a crisis of the border?

answer is no. I think there is a challenge at the border that we are
managing and we have our resources dedicated to — to managing it.


WALLACE: Julie, the Department of Homeland Security put out a report this
week. It wasn’t put out to the republic, but it was leaked, that they are
now projecting 117,000 unaccompanied minors that are going to cross the
border this year, way over what we thought was a very serious surge in

Is that sustainable for the — for the Biden White House to say, well, it’s
not a crisis, it’s a challenge, we’re managing it, and — and, more
importantly, do they really have a plan to get this under control?

PACE: Well, they don’t have a plan at the moment to get this under control.
We do know that the White House is dispatching some officials to the border
to try to see this situation firsthand. But, right now, they’re caught in
this situation where they are saying that the policy steps that we’ve seen
Biden take on emigration, essentially rolling back a lot of the Trump
administration’s deterrence policies should not be read by migrants as an
open invitation. Do not mass at the border. This does not mean you can get
across easily.

But for all of their talk about that, all of their messaging on it, that’s
not the message that is actually being received by a lot of migrants and so
you do have this situation where people are increasingly coming to the
border, families with young children do feel like this is a moment where
they can get into the United States. They do feel like there’s going to be
a more receptive policy from the Biden administration.

So this is the challenge that the White House has. If they don’t think that
their policy actually is an open invitation, then they have to signal that
more clearly because that is — that is, obviously, not the way it is being
interpreted at the moment.

WALLACE: Marc, in its zeal to reverse Trump policies that they are happy to
call inhumane, and that’s one of the more — the milder words being used at
the White House podium these days, has the Biden White House gone too far?

SHORT: Chris, they’re absolutely rolling out a red carpet for illegals to
come into the United States. And the reality is, it is a humanitarian
crisis. And, as you mentioned, in the last couple months alone, it’s the —
the numbers of migrants reaching the border is three times what it was and
it’s only going up. It’s going to get worse by the end of the spring.

One of the things that the Trump-Pence administration did was a remain in
Mexico policy that required migrants to stay in Mexico as their asylum
claims were adjudicated.

Now, by rescinding that, basically immigrants are about to walk freely into
our country and the numbers are going to continue to increase. You’re going
to continue to see the using of human trafficking, of taking young kids,
unaccompanied minors, to the borders is going to continue to increase.

And just think about your last segment. The reality is right now if you’re
an American citizen and you have to — you have to fly back in the United
States, you’re required to get tests, but if you walk up to our border as
an illegal, you’re allowed to come straight in without any COVID test.
That’s something that Governor Abbott pointed out in your last segment.

WALLACE: I’ve got about 20 seconds, Juan. Your thoughts about this? Isn’t
the Biden administration leaving itself open to a real problem at the

WILLIAMS: I think we do have a real problem at the border, Chris. I think
the biggest change in policy is halting the immediate expulsion of
unaccompanied minors. And the — the Biden administration is simply trying
to have a more humane, rapid processing response.

WALLACE: But they got some problems at this point. We’ll see what happens.

Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.

Up next, our “Power Player of the Week,” the man behind the fitness machine
that’s helping millions stay in shape during the pandemic lockdown.


WALLACE: During this last year of pandemic lockdown’s, the popularity of
one home fitness product has exploded.

Here is our “Power Player of the Week.”


JOHN FOLEY, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, PELOTON: I honestly pinch myself. I feel
like I’ve got the best job and we’re — and we’re creating one of the great
brands of our generation, and we’re having fun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, let’s ride.

WALLACE (voice over): John Foley’s brand is Peloton, the exercise
technology and media giant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where’s your passion at right now? Show me with these
last 30 seconds in that saddle.

WALLACE: That has brought studio fitness into millions of homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to go. Let’s go.

WALLACE: Their stationary bikes are built with touchscreens so users can
immerse themselves in live or on-demand classes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make this your best one right here. Come on!

WALLACE: During pandemic lockdown’s, interest has gone through the roof.

WALLACE (on camera): How much of an increase in sales has there been over
the last year?

FOLEY: Last quarter we’ve — we announced 130 percent year on year growth.

WALLACE: And in the course made you a billionaire, correct?

FOLEY: On paper I am — I am not hurting right now but we are — we’re not
in it for the money.

WALLACE (voice over): Foley and his wife are fitness class addicts. They
came up with the idea a decade ago.

FOLEY: In New York it was hard to get into those classes. We bring a
community of supportive people, millions of people into the experience so
it’s not lonely, think Netflix but for fitness classes.

WALLACE: Members can compete with themselves and each other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can’t (INAUDIBLE) this Peloton. Get a little
savage with it.

FOLEY: The instructor can see how you’re doing and, you know, he or she
might give you a shout out and say, C. Wallace 123, this is your hundred
class, everyone stand up and follow C. Wallace up the hill. Let’s go.

WALLACE (on camera): I’ve got to say, that sounds pretty cool.

FOLEY: We realized we needed to build an entire technology enabled

WALLACE (voice over): But in Peloton’s early days, selling the concept was
like its classes, an uphill climb.

FOLEY: For decades fitness equipment at home was all about a piece of
hardware, but it was largely isolated and not fun. It became the cliche
close hanger and dust collector in your basement, right?

WALLACE: Peloton eventually caught on, but not without some bumps in the


WALLACE: The biggest, there now infamous ad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First ride. I’m a little nervous but excited.

WALLACE: About a husband who gives his already-fit wife a bike for


FOLEY: Oh, boy. That was — it was a frustrating moment for all of us.
We’re very passionate about what we do and it’s not just about fitness,
it’s about a journey and about becoming a better you. And we tried to tell
parts of that story in this TV spot and I think it was a bridge too far for
people that were unfamiliar with what we do.


WALLACE: Today, Peloton has over 5 million members. Foley hopes to make
that 100 million.

FOLEY: We’re going to welcome more members. We’re going to hire more team
members. We’re trying to create the best place to work in the world, which
is kind of fun.

WALLACE: And that bike over Foley’s shoulder isn’t a prop.

FOLEY: At 6:00 a.m. my wife and I are — are often stumbling over each
other to figure out who — who gets to do the 6:00 ride.

WALLACE (on camera): Have you ever thought of getting two bikes for the
Foley household so you don’t have to fight each other?

FOLEY: I should. I should.

WALLACE: I think you could — could get a deal.

FOLEY: You’re right.


WALLACE: Speaking of Peloton couples, there are some high-profile fans here
in D.C., President and Mrs. Biden. No word yet whether they brought their
bike with them to the White House.

And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next FOX NEWS


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