• "The Five" host Jesse Watters admitted he wasn't taking COVID-19 "seriously" while out over the weekend
  • He said a trip to his mother's helped put things in perspective for him about his attitude with the virus
  • Watters is now encouraging people to practice proper social distancing while COVID-19 is still prevalent

[Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of Greg Gutfeld.]

A Fox News host rolled back previous statements about the seriousness of COVID-19, saying he wasn't taking the threat "seriously" and a trip to his mother's helped put things into context.

Jesse Watters, 41, spoke about it on Fox News' panel show, "The Five." Watters had previously dismissed the severity of the coronavirus and said the outbreak was caused by Chinese people "eating raw bats and snakes."

Watters had also said that he wasn't "afraid of the coronavirus and no one else should be that afraid either." The comments were in line with other Fox News hosts, who had also tried to downplay the seriousness of the coronavirus. Watters even demanded an apology from China for spreading the virus.

"I'd like to just ask the Chinese for a formal apology," Watters said on March 2. "This coronavirus originated in China and I have not heard one word from the Chinese. A simple 'I'm sorry' would do. It would go a long way. I expect a formal apology tomorrow."

These statements were accompanied by jokes aimed at China that resulted in Watters being accused of xenophobia.

Watters has been made similarly inflammatory comments in the past. He once said that in the case of domestic terrorism, "it is always a Muslim." He also asked Asians in New York's Chinatown if they knew karate. On climate change, he once said people "can fight climate change with suntan lotion; it's not that big of a deal."

Watters said a trip to his mother's home over the weekend put the coronavirus in a new perspective.

"I went to visit my mom this weekend and she made me wear gloves to come inside of her house. She is suspicious that I might have coronavirus," Watters said. "I wore the gloves all afternoon in the house. That's what it is."

He continued, saying that he didn't take social distancing seriously for most of the weekend, which included going out for dinner to continue supporting local businesses. By the time he woke up on Monday, he "realized that was not the right move" and is encouraging others to practice proper social distancing.

Other hosts of the program took the chance to share how their daily lives have changed as local, state, and federal officials work to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"You know, I have friends that are kind of bumming me out, who keep saying we're overdoing it. And I know that we're all hearing it," co-host Greg Gutfeld said. "But I'd say I would prefer to look back and be wrong and look back and be foolish then think about, 'Oh, I didn't do enough.' So I'm willing to bite the bullet... And you may never know if your overreaction helped."

The News Corporation headquarters in New York is home to The Wall Street Journal as well as Fox News and the New York Post
The News Corporation headquarters in New York is home to The Wall Street Journal as well as Fox News and the New York Post GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Kevin Hagen