(CNSNews.com) - Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke -- the Texas Democrat Joe Biden has tapped as his gun-control point man -- said he and his wife do not think it's safe to send their children to school this fall.
In an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, O'Rourke complained that local officials "are not allowed to issue stay at home orders" -- and close businesses -- in communities that are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases. He said that's "one important step" the (Republican) governor could take right now to reverse the coronavirus spike.
"All three of our kids are going to public schools next year in the 8th, 7th, and 4th grades," O'Rourke told MSNBC:
And we were given a choice by the district, either we do a hybrid of in-person schooling and distance learning from home or 100 percent virtual distance learning. And that second option looks like the one that we're going to choose, because as you just reported, COVID spread is out of control in the State of Texas.
Every number that you just mentioned for our state, the number of deaths, the number of hospitalizations, which are near 10,000, hospital capacity now at 100 percent in some areas, over 100 percent in the Rio Grande Valley, with no plan to test, to contact trace, to isolate, or to get through and out of this, it would be irresponsible for us to send our kids to school.
And As Dr. Wen [an MSNBC contributor] pointed out, it's not just the kids, it is the custodians, the cafeteria workers, the teachers, support staff, everyone, and we've got to be worried about and concerned for everyone right now. So this is out of control in Texas. Until we get it under control, we've got to stay at home.
And one thing that I think we need to stress -- the governor, though he has mandated a mandatory mask order in Texas and though he's closed bars, restaurants are still open. Businesses are still open.
County judges and mayors are not allowed to issue stay at home orders in their communities, in those same community where is they have run out of ICI beds. That's one important step that the governor can take right away that would improve things markedly.
O'Rourke was invited to slam Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who's been a target for the anti-Trump left ever since she got the job.
DeVos on Wednesday urged the nation's governors to reopen their schools: "Risk is involved in everything we do, everything from learning to ride a bike, to riding a rocket into space, and everything in-between," she told them.
MSNBC's Joy Reid asked O'Rourke what he thinks of the Education Secretary "likening little kids like yours, that they should take the same kind of risk that astronauts take, who risk death to go to the moon?"
O'Rourke talked about the "death cult mentality" of the nation's Republican leaders, and he also worked "gun violence" into his argument:
These are the same people who want us to accept that more people, including more children, will die of gun violence this year in America than in any other developed country, bar none. It's just the price of quote unquote 'freedom' in this country.
And in some ways they've almost won that fight. If you look at the gun laws that are on the books and the gun laws that should be on the books and aren't in this country, in some way we have tacitly accepted this historic, tragic level of gun violence in America that continues to rise.
And we saw that just over the weekend in many American cities. It's that same kind of death cult mentality that asks us to accept one quarter, 25 percent of the world's COVID cases, one quarter, 25 percent of the world's COVID deaths, though we represent only 4 percent of the globe's population. That is absolutely unacceptable.
And everything that you just read from her is absolutely ridiculous and on its face, stupid. We should be outraged and angered and demanding more from our leaders.
O’Rourke accused Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of ignoring the well-being and safety of Texas families and children. “Twenty-nine hundred of our fellow Texans are now dead because of his incompetence,” said O’Rourke, who has asked the governor to resign.
O'Rourke, a former contender for the Democrat presidential nomination, said at one of the debates, ""Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore."
In March, when he appeared with Joe Biden to endorse the former vice president, Biden praised his former competitor for the Democrat nomination:
"I want to make something clear," Biden said. "I'm going to guarantee this is not the last you're seeing of this guy.
“You're going to take care of the gun problem with me. You're going to be the one who leads this effort. I'm counting on you. I'm counting on you. We need you badly, the state needs you, the country needs you. You're the best. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”