Bill bennett education secretary US
© Fox News
Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett
Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett said Monday that the danger of the coronavirus has been overstated while it has created "panic and pandemonium," "scared the hell out of the American people" and cost "17 million jobs."

Citing statistics from the University of Washington, "which is the model everybody has been going on, even though its been wrong most of the time, by a lot, overstating it, now they say 60,000 people will die. 61,000 is what we lost to the flu in 2017 and 2018. The flu," the best-selling author and conservative pundit told Fox & Friends.

"We're going to have fewer fatalities from this than from the flu. For this, we scared the hell out of the American people. We lost 17 million jobs, we put a major dent in the economy, we closed down the schools ... shut down the churches."

Bennett says he is not dismissing "the loss of 61,000 people, if that's what it turns out to be. I'm going to tell you I think it's going to be less." The former Reagan presidency cabinet member continued by saying it was important to "salute all those working on the frontlines on this, the hospital workers, nurses, the doctors, et cetera and the generosity of the American people."

Bennett said "an average American" has a "two-tenths of 1% chance" of contracting the coronavirus and that there is a 98% survival rate for those who do become infected. "These things are very rarely heard out there."

The education expert contrasted the current "panic and pandemonium as a result of the hype" to the psychological atmosphere that existed immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when many people said, "Let's roll" and get even with America's enemies. Now he says too many Americans are saying, "Let's roll up in a ball let's hide under the bed: this is not the way America works. Let's get back to work..."

Bennett also said there is no need for an all or nothing approach to reigniting the economy, rejecting "this metaphor that seems to be governing the conversation."
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan
© cott Eisen/Getty Images
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan
"You don't flip on the light switch," he said in reference to Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's remark that America cannot just "pick a date and flip a switch" to reopened the economy. "Get a three-way bulb," Bennett retorted. "You don't have to go all the way to 100. Go to 70: 50, 70 and then 85."

Bennett said there has not been enough attention paid to the attendant problems that have grown from people self-isolating, including a "300% increase in the suicide hotline," a "big increase in the opioid epidemic" and more domestic violence.
David Krayden, The Daily Caller's Ottawa Bureau Chief, is a weekly newspaper columnist, conservative political pundit and communications expert who was formerly an Air Force public affairs officer and communications manager on Parliament Hill.