Ex-Homeland Security chief Ridge says coronavirus is 'permanent risk,' US must 'learn how to manage it'

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told "Your World" Thursday that coronavirus has become a "permanent risk" for all Americans and state and federal officials will have to "learn how to manage it."

Ridge, who spent more than six years as Pennsylvania's governor, told host Neil Cavuto that state chief executives of both parties "by and large ... have done a very good job" despite what he described as "challenges associated with inconsistent messages, perhaps from Washington, and the availability or unavailability of some basic equipment."


When asked for his thoughts on how quickly states should reopen their economies, Ridge said, "I think, writ large, if we follow the science and the experts and move back into our economy in a gradual, incremental basis, I think we will put this thing hopefully behind us. It is not as if we are going to eliminate COVID-19. It has now become a part of Mother Nature’s infrastructure."

Ridge has previously criticized lockdown protesters in his home state, characterizing them as "self-absorbed and selfish."

"[They] complain they are irritated, anxious, bored, upset [and] unhappy that their lives have been affected by this temporary restraint on their freedoms," he wrote in a USA Today opinion column last month. "Some have even gotten into confrontations with nurses and other front-line health care workers who believe now is not the time to resume normality,"

"Of course, our First Amendment gives them the right to protest," he added. "Our veterans helped ensure it. But ... it is impossible to characterize the actions of those who are protesting orders to stay at home as 'courageous' or 'heroic.'"

"We do have to worry about a resurgence," Ridge said Thursday. "At the same time, we ought to understand it’s going to be a permanent risk. We have to learn how to manage it: [That] means you have to go from a steady stop, which we've done basically to a lot of the economy, and we have to gradually move back in and put people back to work."


Ridge added that officials must "be smart and adopt some common sense into mitigating the risk and understanding their risk and managing the risk.

"One of those risks is the reoccurrence of not only COVID-19, but Mother Nature may [throw] COVID-24 or -25 at us."