Rep. Matt Gaetz: ‘People should wear masks when they're in public’

GOP congressman Matt Gaetz discusses the rise of cases in Florida, and defends keeping up confederate statues.
11:52 | 07/16/20

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Transcript for Rep. Matt Gaetz: ‘People should wear masks when they're in public’
We are joined by Republican congressman met gates of Florida thanks so much for your time congressman. It's die strap me. Suze Yunel your state has seen a surge of new cases in reported a record 132 deaths yesterday 112 more deaths just today. So Florida mayors have expressed concern that if the rise is in control of the next few weeks of the state may have to shut down again. In a radio interview yesterday it's not what your solution to the surge in Florida was to quote. Lock up the boomers is that really a viable option in doesn't address the heart of the problem which is at the younger people are more frequently testing positive. Younger people are more frequently testing positive but worse continuing to see more evidence that. Young people are less likely to be symptomatic and they're also less likely to spread the disease so we should not evaluate corona borrowers as equally affecting. The young and old the sick in the well. We have a lot of seniors in the state of Florida and sought my point was that they need to take special care folks like my parents who have. Co morbid conditions that are a little bit older might have to shelter in place longer than young people who are going to school and getting to work in Florida. You famously wore a gas masks on the house floor back in March seemingly. Making light of the situation but the head of the CDC said today. If everyone in this nation would just take on a face covering practice excellent hand hygiene and be Smart about their distancing and crowds. We can bring this upgrade to its knees in 2468. Weeks. Do you agree with that assessment and does Florida need to mandate masks in public and why not take up preventative measure. I was making light of anything it's interesting you seem to ascribe my motives I think I was wearing a mask before it was Sheikh before it was cool. I think that people should Wear masks when they're in public I certainly do. In the state of Florida our governor has empowered our mayors and county commissions to issue last quarter's if they so choose and matter fact governor had a press conference today where he said that. If you're community has analyzed the data and you've got sufficient community spread to Warren's amassed quarter would like you to follow the orders of your local officials. So that we asked was not tongue and she'd just to be cleared because I mean there are some police simple mass that you can Wear without. Going to the extreme love of the gas mask. Well as you'll remember in the early days of corona virus public health officials actually said. Don't go out and buy one of the and 95 masks that our health care professionals needed at that time. I happen to have a mask of a different card and so I ward. And the fact that I gave an interview the very same day to the hill where I sit. I'm not making light of this arm simply wearing a face mask because it's my belief that members of congress will contract the disease. Unfortunately my projection turned out to be true a number of members of congress how because. Of the lifestyles we lead we shake a lot of hands get a lot of Hudson traveled through a lot of dirty airports and so. I think I was ahead of the curve but he certainly I didn't want to go out and buy a mask that might have been needed by a nurse or another health care professional. And it just because I'm curious so is that the mask that gas mess that you where you're doing errands just routinely during your day. No actually seen since that time. We've become more far more capable is a country ensuring that we have masks for everyone matter of fact in the state of Florida we have a stockpile of ten. Million masks fifteen million gowns and gloves that are available for health care professional so weren't very different place thanks to the leadership of the trump administration. So now I Wear a mask that's a little lighter but. That was the only mascot had the time and so award but. I made very clear in my public comments of the very same day that the purpose for wearing the mask was a consequence of the way members of congress travel around the country and interact with people understand fair enough snow White House and some conservatives have gone after doctor found -- you know for what they say is. He and being wrong about the virus in the past but but let's listen to some of the president's past statements. There's the live in April when he it's going to disappear one day it's like a miracle that will disappear. And we're prepared we're doing great job with it will go away stay Cobb more than eleven. So those are just a few examples given in the inaccuracy of the president's past statements is it reasonable for the White House then to throw shade on doctor fascia and criticize the CDC. I think that the president's prediction ultimately will come true matter of fact if you look at. The recent announcements from the national institute of health and Madeira and I think we now how. The most promising candidate for a vaccine so I think the president's point is that the corona virus isn't a dynamic that will be dealing with. Forever that ultimately will find a solution and until we do the federal government house to provide provision for our people but we also have to ensure that there is sufficient guidance of the weekend. Grapple with this disease. Yet disagree fair got that first satellite was that he thought that it was gonna go way and in April and and you know clearly I have and I'm sure we. No I'm sure we don't wish that would've thought gone away in April the president is often an optimist in hopes for the best but here we've also prepared for the worst. By ensuring that no American that. Needs a battle later doesn't have a panel later in that were engaging in the type of cooperative. Collaboration so that we can develop these vaccines the fact that we've got over a hundred vaccine candidates and one. There will be given to 30000. American soon to potentially block the virus is very promising and hopefully gets us back to normal just as the president had hoped. And just yesterday doctor fountain said that the public should trust respected medical authorities that he is one of them who are you turning to this point for your guidance. We get guidance from doctor found chief from doctor Burks from our. A state of surgeons general and even down at the local health the local county level here in Florida we have public health officials who help aggregate the data. Can contact Trace one thing that we've actually learned from. The department of health and Florida is that these protests while themselves. In the actual outside active protesting may have some limited impact on the virus is spread. The activities that people engage in before and after the protests whether. Huddled up in an apartment making signs or maybe grab and -- after really have contributed to viral spread and so we hope that if folks are exercising their first amendment rights to protest that they are just wearing the mask. During the protest what they also engage in. The right social distancing in the right preventative efforts both before and after. And many states there are certainly dealing with the economic fallout of scaling back their reopening so does congress need to provide. More rain at this point to help state and local governments as well as businesses their risk of not making it through the summer what's the next step. I know the administration is an active negotiations now with. Congressional leadership to try to formulate. An additional package for the provision of the American people are businesses and any strained institutions as a consequence of corona virus including our local governments are public health systems but. This is not a problem that just money consult wheels stopped the right policies and strategies 16 I know the Republicans are fighting hard for is to change the circumstance that allows some folks to arbitrage there unemployment benefits where it's actually more advantageous economically for a worker to stay out of the workforce and to get in the workforce so now Republicans are negotiating for changes to those provisions of law so that were able to get the right incentive for people to get back to work if it's safe to do so. Let's turn out to the. Lack lives matter movement is since the death of George Floyd of course we've seen. Massive protests taking place across the country recently a couple in Saint Louis pointing guns at protesters prompting you to post on FaceBook saying. In Joseph Biden's America your job is illegal and you're locked in your home border zone exist MS thirteen lives next door. And the police are coming when the mob arrives this is all above so do you think that that couple pointing guns and peaceful protesters is the best depiction of all Americans. Well you've mischaracterize the photograph I don't see them pointing guns at any other people. I see them standing outside of their home with firearms I don't see any humans that that there pointed out in the in the photo that I posted. But I certainly think that there is a dynamic and our country where regular Americans feel like. Democrats are trying to pass bills so the police want to rides and if they do arrive that they won't get out of their car and engage in proactive policing. That's not just my critique that's in fact a critique of Rahm Emanuel. When he was saying that some these reforms could potentially limit the ability to have proactive policing. So I think that that was the point I was trying to make it. Gosh when you look at Joseph Biden's open borders policies and his desired. I think make our communities less safe and certainly fitting critique. And lastly you've also said that your concern that some activists want to quote replace America I know you've raised concerns certainly about statues of founding filers like George Washington being threatened but. Let's focus squarely on the confederate symbols and statues why do you believe that they should remain in public spaces and recently referred to it is. Cultural genocide do you still stand by that. Absolutely I think that there is an effort right now. Two to fundamentally change America. By making us not love America and that I'm speaking directly to the desire to tear down George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas even for goodness sakes but to specifically answer your question. About confederate generals it's important to understand. Why those statues were erected in the first place. They were put up as an act of reconciliation. After the civil war. Now obviously there were some terrible circumstances that occurred after the civil war. But we look at the fact that we actually did stanch our country back together we are one nation now there is not a divide between the north and South America and when you compare that to civil wars that have occurred. Throughout the global. I'm actually pretty proud of the American reconciliation process so I don't view these statues or these names of bases as. Testaments to the human beings themselves or even particular moments a time. I think they do mark a historical events of reconciliation. And a binding big country back together. I think that's the appropriate context to do these statutes if you look at the Jefferson Memorial I think you've got a perfect example about how to memorializing. The good work of a man but also to reflect on the fact that Jefferson was a slave owner and that he understood the fundamental inconsistency. Of slavery with American way of life I think he said slavery whistle like all holding the ears of the wolf where we could neither ride her nor letter go also. By providing additional context at any historical monument is good. But trying to whitewash our history and tear down our statutes I think deprives us of an understanding of what it took. To unify our country after the civil war. But I am just curious we decide the ancestor Robert. Is there any compromise there you say to the people who find that offensive. Deal with it. No I think that the compromise is to add to our history and to. In rich our understanding of cultural events not to act as if they did not occur and of course it's the case that in America's past there are moments. That bring pain into our current understanding of our country and our values. But that very thing could be said. About lead surely any other society in all of human history. There's never been AA in a gathering of humans over a long period of time where there I've not been. Bloody unfortunate catastrophic and tragic events that doesn't mean you forget about those events that doesn't mean that you act as if they didn't occur but you do try to always strive to be a more perfect union that's what our founders understood so as we strive to that greater perfection. We shouldn't erase our history we should seek to better understand. Congressman Matt gates a Florida we thank you so much for your time for coming on the show. Thanks for having me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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