Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned on Sunday that some restaurants and bars will have to remain closed as COVID-19 cases surge across the country.
“Bars and restaurants—in most of the country—will be closed as we go into this wave, and I think, sadly, that’s appropriate,” Gates told CNN's State of the Union.
Gates' comment prompted a response from some critics on the right, including former Acting Director of U.S. National Intelligence Richard Grenell, the Daily Caller and Georgia congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, who claim its easy for Gates to say when he's worth over $118 billion.
"He does not care about small businesses like bars, restaurants and gyms," Greene said. "Over 99% of people under age 60 (the health working class & kids in school) SURVIVE covid. This is insanity that will devastate people's lives."
A report by the National Restaurant Association found that at least 10,000 restaurants have closed nationwide in the last three months alone, bringing the total to more than 110,000. According to a survey of 6,000 restaurant operators, 87% of full-service restaurants saw a 36% drop in sales and 83% said they expect the coming winter months to be "even worse," with 58% anticipating layoffs and furloughs on the horizon.
Of the restaurants that have already closed, an estimated 17% had served their communities for an average of 16 years, and 16% had been running for at least 30 years.
"What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type -- franchise, chain and independent -- are in an unprecedented economic decline," wrote the group's executive vice president, Sean Kennedy, in a wetter to Congress. "And for every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands more restaurants across the country will close their doors for good."
Kennedy warned that "the restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer" and urged lawmakers to pass the Senate's version of the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act as a "down payment" before passing a larger COVID-19 stimulus package in early 2021.
In addition to his comment on restaurants and bars, Gates noted that the next four to six months will “really call on us to do our best, because we can see that this will end and you don’t want somebody that you love to be the last to die from coronavirus.”
When asked when he believes the U.S. will regain some sense of pre-coronavirus life, Gates predicted the U.S. could see some sense of normalcy as early as summer 2021.
“But even through early 2022, unless we help other countries get rid of this disease, and we get high vaccination rates in our country, the risk of reintroduction will be there and, of course, the global economy will be slowed down, which hurts America economically in a pretty dramatic way,” he added.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently pledged an additional $250 million in the fight against COVID-19, marking the organization's single largest contribution to date. According to the foundation, the donation brings its total commitment to the global COVID-19 response to $1.75 billion.
According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, the United States has surpassed 16.4 million coronavirus cases and more than 300,000 deaths.
Fox News' Julia Musto contributed to this report.