WASHINGTON — Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is declining to criticize local leaders amid images of crowded bars and boardwalks in areas where coronavirus restrictions are being lifted.
Azar told CNN in an interview Sunday that “the president has left it up to states to know their local situation the best,” and said it’s therefore “very hard to judge in any community whether a bar being open, a restaurant, a school is the right thing.”
Azar noted that many counties across the country have yet to suffer a single death, and so, “There should not be one-size-fits-all approaches to reopening.”
But he adds: “Reopen we must because it’s not health versus the economy, it’s actually health vs. health,” citing “serious health consequences” caused by the shutdown, including the risk of suicide, delayed cardiac procedures and cancer screenings.
As for the images, he said: “I think in any individual instance you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” but says: “That’s part of the freedom we have here in America.”