Alex Berenson explains why US schools 'should be open' with 'no restrictions' despite pandemic

'You don't shut down the schools,' ex-NY Times reporter tells Bill Hemmer. 'You don't shut down society'

Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson told Fox News' Bill Hemmer on the "Hemmer Time" podcast that his preferred response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic "is not that different than what people who are experts on infectious disease were saying we should do about flu pandemics.

"That means," added Berenson, "you don't shut down the schools. You know, maybe you temporarily shut them down if there's a large rash of cases for a week or two. But you don't shut down the schools. You don't shut down society. You don't force people to wear masks in public unless there's really good evidence that doing so is going to reduce transmission, which we don't have."

Berenson, the author of "Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and Lockdowns," has drawn a large social media following -- and become a divisive figure -- for his skepticism about the effectiveness of lockdowns and mask-wearing in stopping the spread of the virus.

He told Hemmer that a case to "temporarily shut down the country ... for a week or 10 days or two weeks" could have been made around mid-March, as confirmed cases began to multiply in early hotspots like New York City.

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"But by early April, it was very clear to anybody who was paying close attention," Berenson added, "that we were going to be able to get through this and navigate to the other side of it without societal collapse [and] that the real risk ... came from the efforts to stop ... anybody from getting this rather than the risk of the virus itself."

Later in the podcast, Berenson returned to the issue of reopening schools, which became a focal point for the Trump administration this week.

"The schools need to open. They should open," he said. "They are open essentially all over the world, certainly most of the developed world, they are open in more and more places without any meaningful restrictions on student activity. That is certainly true for elementary schools and, you know, pre-elementary, kindergarten, pre-K. It probably should be true for all schools. It probably should be true for colleges, too.

"The reason is very simple," Berenson went on. "Children are at extremely low risk from SARS-CoV-2 [coronavirus], young adults are at extremely low risk from SARS-CoV-2. They are much higher risk from things like drinking and driving. For young children ... they're a much higher risk [from] things like abuse and neglect. They are higher risk from the flu. If you're a child or teenager, you're at higher risk from the flu, no question about it. You're high risk from drowning, from fires, from many, many different things."

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Berenson also noted that the list of countries where schools have been reopened for students includes "Australia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, some of the wealthiest countries in the world, countries where they really care about children, where they have a lot of child care policies and and maternity leave, paternity leave policies that people on the left would love for the United States.

"They have their schools open. Our schools should be open," he added. "No restrictions."

Listen to the full interview on the latest episode of "Hemmer Time" here, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

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