Dr. Fauci calls relaxation of Covid rules in Texas and Mississippi ‘inexplicable’

“I don’t know why they’re doing it, but it certainly from a public health standpoint is ill advised,” a visibly dejected Dr. Fauci says

Nathan Place
NYC
Friday 05 March 2021 15:44 GMT
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Dr. Anthony Fauci strongly objected to the decisions by some governors to relax COVID restrictions.
Dr. Anthony Fauci strongly objected to the decisions by some governors to relax COVID restrictions. (Getty Images)
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Dr. Anthony Fauci has strongly objected to the recent moves by some states to relax their Covid-19 precautions, calling the decision to do so “inexplicable”.

“I don’t know why they’re doing it, but it certainly from a public health standpoint is ill advised,” a visibly dejected Dr. Fauci told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “It is just inexplicable why you would want to pull back now.”

The governors of Texas and Mississippi both announced on Tuesday that they were lifting mask mandates and allowing all businesses in their states to fully reopen, citing progress on vaccinations and a recent downturn in coronavirus numbers.

But Dr. Fauci said this is no time to lift restrictions. Though new cases and hospitalisations for Covid-19 are down across the country, he said, they have plateaued in recent days, and could go up if people are not careful.

“We’ve been to this scene before,” he told Ms Burnett. “Months and months ago when we tried to open up the country and open up the economy, when certain states did not abide by the guidelines, we had rebounds, which were very troublesome. What we don’t need right now is another surge.”

President Joe Biden also sharply criticised the Texas and Mississippi decisions this week.

“I think it’s a big mistake,” Mr Biden told reporters at the Oval Office on Wednesday. “The last thing we need is this neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.”

Nationally, new coronavirus cases in the United States began a steep decline after their post-holiday peak in early January, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Since late February, however, that decline appears to have stopped.

“If you look at, right now, the curves of the diminution of infections that are going down, it’s reached a point where the last seven days it’s plateaued,” Dr. Fauci said.

In Texas, the picture is even worse. Since February 20, the seven-day average of new cases in the state has not plateaued, but risen by over 3,000-- almost doubling.

In Mississippi, cases have risen and then fallen again since February 24, but its seven-day average is still about a hundred cases higher than its low point.

Dr. Fauci also pointed out that the United States’ baseline of new infections is extremely high, wavering between 55,000 and 70,000 cases per day.

“I understand the need to want to get back to normality,” Dr. Fauci said, “but you’re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines.”

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