Ex-NY Times reporter blasts governors over 'infuriating' lockdowns: 'They are fools and haven't read the data'

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Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, the most prominent critic of the models informing lawmakers' response to the coronavirus crisis, told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Tuesday that local leaders should allow Americans to get back to work while protecting the most vulnerable populations.

"I'm getting sick of people saying, 'We don't know much about this virus, we don't know enough to know what the right steps are,'" Berenson said. "If that's true, why have we shut down the world?

"We do know a lot about this virus and we know the average age of death in the United States and worldwide is probably about 80 or 82 and we know about half, if not more, of the people who die in the United States die in nursing homes," Berenson said. "We know enough to know we should protect those people ... and instead, our leaders are spending time haranguing us about masks and destroying the economy with lockdowns and every day it makes less sense and every day it's more infuriating."

Berenson, who primarily covered the pharmaceutical industry during his time with the paper, told Carlson that he has been "waiting for the reality and the data to start to hit people." He specifically criticized leaders in Oregon, New York, and Illinois for imposing "unrealistic benchmarks" in lifting their respective lockdowns.

"I've been waiting for the reality and the data to start to hit people and it's been very slow."

— Alex Berenson

"If they don't know, they are fools and haven't read the data which is publicly available, available on their own government websites," Berenson said. "I've been waiting for the reality and the data to start to hit people and it's been very slow. Many states have these phased-in lockdown plans that have very, very unrealistic benchmarks, Oregon's benchmarks are crazy, New York’s ... Illinois's benchmarks, many of the blue state lockdown states have these benchmarks that are very difficult to meet."

"Is it going to take people in the streets?" he wondered. "That seems to have helped a little bit in California last week but I don't know what it's going to take for people ... not people, but lawmakers ... to start being realistic here."

Berenson also responded to reports British scientist Neil Ferguson, who had worked with the London government on its coronavirus response, resigned from his advisory role Tuesday after he reportedly defied lockdown measures by letting a woman visit him on two occasions.

"He's an incredibly important scientist ... he is probably the most important person driving the [British] government's response to the lockdown," Berenson said. "There was a New York Times story on March 17th that ... mentioned him by name as having the ear of the British government and Boris Johnson."

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"There is no question he violated the lockdown," Berenson said of Ferguson. "On March 18th he tweeted he had symptoms of the coronavirus and he met this woman on March 30th. That is not outside the two-week limit, it's within the limit, there's no way around that."

Ferguson stepped down from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the body that advises the government in emergencies. He led an academic team at Imperial College London that produced a model forecasting the spread of COVID-19 and predicted as many as 500,000 deaths if the government failed to take action.

Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report.