Kayleigh McEnany slams blue states for 'Orwellian' Covid-19 rules, says Americans 'know how to protect their health'
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday, November 18, slammed state orders restricting private Thanksgiving celebrations as “Orwellian” as governors tried to contain the spread of coronavirus ahead of the holiday season. More than 11 million people in the US have been affected by the virus so far while over 250,000 lives have been lost.
The words of McEnany, who told Fox & Friends on Wednesday morning that she thought a lot of the guidelines were Orwellian, brought to the fore the conflict between the federal and state administrations over dealing with the pandemic this year. President Donald Trump found himself at odds with a number of Democratic governors over the decision to extend lockdowns earlier this year to curb the spread of the virus and on one occasion, even asked people to “liberate” the blue states by defying the lockdown orders.
“The American people know how to protect their health,” McEnany, who took over in April this year, said, adding: “We've dealt with Covid for many months.”
“The American people are a freedom-loving people. We can make good decisions. We can wash our hands, wear masks, socially distance. But we can also decide in our own personal domicile, our own home, whether we can have our family members present at any given time. That is the American way. That is freedom,” the 32-year-old said.
Despite the press secretary’s claim, however, cases of coronavirus have been going up since around the middle of September.
States like Oregon, California have strict Thanksgiving restrictions
McEnany’s remarks made a reference to Oregon Governor Kate Brown who set guidelines for private Thanksgiving parties starting now, including some tight restrictions on the number of guests allowed. The 60-year-old Democrat announced her decision last Friday, November 13, ordering a two-week "freeze" starting Wednesday and continuing till December 2 – a period when people celebrate Thanksgiving. The so-called "freeze" includes issues like fines and even arrests of those who organize gatherings of more than six people, including in private celebrations.
“If we want to give Oregonians a fighting chance then we must take further measures to flatten the curve now," Brown said at the press conference where she announced the new restrictions.
Governor Brown also said this time is “likely the most dangerous time in Oregon” and predicted, “dark days ahead”.
“But it’s Orwellian in a place like Oregon to say, ‘If you gather in numbers more than six, we might come to your house and arrest you, and you get 30 days of jail time’. That's not the American way. We don't lose our freedom in this country. We make responsible health decisions as individuals,” McEnany, a staunch supporter of Trump, said.
The new restrictions also include limiting pharmacy and retail stores to only 75 percent capacity and turning faith-based bodies to gatherings to only 25 people (indoors) and 50 (outdoors).
Public places like gyms, pools, museums, movie theaters, zoos and others will be completely shut down while restaurants and bars will not be open for in-person dining but only take-outs.
According to McEnany, the restrictions were un-American.
Brown’s California counterpart Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, has also faced flak over his state-wide restrictions on Thanksgiving. His guidelines put a restriction on how families can celebrate the occasion. He came up with the announcement in end October and the guidelines included ‘strongly discouraging’ people from even singing. Californians were also asked to celebrate outdoors and allow visitors inside only if they were using frequently-sanitized bathrooms. The rules also said gatherings over the holiday should be restricted to people from a maximum of three different households. When facing the backlash, Newsom defended the rules saying people were “misled” into believing the state was enforcing them.
When Fox’s Steve Doocy countered McEnany after her criticism of the state guidelines, asking: “Ultimately, didn't the White House say, ‘Do what you want to do?’” The latter agreed that it is up to every state to do what they want but added there are consequences for those states, before referencing the rising number of cases in states like New York.
New York has been the worst-hit state with more than 34,000 deaths. California has seen more than 18,000 deaths while the toll in Oregon in 788.