Nunes claims it would be 'way overkill' to cancel school year in California due to coronavirus

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Calif.) late Tuesday claimed that it would be "overkill" for California to cancel the rest of its school year over the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, even as the Trump administration warned that the month of April could be "painful" for the U.S.

Speaking on Fox News's "The Ingraham Angle," Nunes said that he was optimistic that the U.S. could contain the spread and reopen the economy and the nation's schools within two to four weeks. 

"The schools were just canceled out here in California, which is way overkill," he said, apparently referencing new comments from a state official about the likelihood of schools remaining closed. "It’s possible schools could’ve gone back to school in two to four weeks."

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California has yet to officially cancel the rest of its school year. Though superintendent of public instruction, Tony Thurmond, said earlier Tuesday that it was likely students would not return to the classroom this school year because of the current social distancing restrictions. 

The Republican congressman went on to tout a pair of anti-malaria drugs approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nunes said that there was "a lot of optimism" about those treatments, though health officials have warned that not enough is known about the drugs' effects to draw a definitive conclusion. 

“If we don’t start to get people back to work in this country over the next week to two weeks, I don’t believe we can wait until the end of April," Nunes said. "I just don’t know of any economy that’s survived where you’ve unplugged the entire economy and expect things to go back and be normal."

The comments from Nunes arrived the same day that the Trump administration projected that between 100,000 and 240,000 people in the U.S. could die of COVID-19 even with social distancing requirements in place. President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district MORE said during a White House briefing that Americans should prepare for a "very, very painful" two weeks. 

The U.S. had reported nearly 190,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and more than 4,000 deaths stemming from it as of Wednesday morning, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. California is one of many states to issue a shelter-in-place order to help stem the spread of the disease. 

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The Trump administration on Sunday extended its advisory urging people to avoid nonessential travel and gatherings of more than 10 people through the end of April. 

Nunes has previously downplayed the severity of the outbreak. In mid-March, he said that people needed to "stop panicking," saying that it was “a great time” for those who are healthy to "just go out."

His new comments about reopening the economy appeared to break with Trump's new rationale. After previously pushing for reopening businesses by Easter, Trump said on Tuesday that containing the virus took priority over the economy.