Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president on COVID-19, rebuked Republican governors who have abandoned restrictions put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus in their states, suggesting on Wednesday the lifting of mitigation measures was “ill-advised.”
“I don’t know why they’re doing it, but it’s certainly from a public health standpoint ill-advised,” Fauci said during a CNN interview on Wednesday night.
“It’s just inexplicable why you would want to pull back now,” Fauci added.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci tells @ErinBurnett that states lifting mask mandates is "ill-advised."
"Now is not the time to pull back. Now's the time to really crush this by doing both public health measures and accelerating the vaccinations like we're going." pic.twitter.com/nl8stUzlqm
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) March 4, 2021
The comments pushed back on decisions by two Republican governors to abruptly end COVID-19 restrictions in their states even as vaccine rollout nationwide remains in its early stages.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) had announced on Tuesday that he would be ending the state’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions, which includes lifting its statewide mask mandate and capacity restrictions on businesses.
“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” Abbott said at the time.
Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Tate Reeves made a similar announcement to rollback efforts to short circuit the virus’ spread.
Fauci said during the Wednesday interview that while infections remain at a “very, very high base line” — ranging from 55,000 to 70,000 cases daily — a reversal of the mitigation measures would likely cause cases to soar even higher.
“We’ve been to the scene before months and months ago when we tried to open up the country and the economy when certain states did not abide by the guidelines we had rebounds which were very troublesome,” Fauci said. What we don’t need right now is another surge.”
President Joe Biden had slammed the lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions as a kind of “neanderthal thinking,” as he continues to encourage Americans to remain vigilant amid the ongoing pandemic which has killed more than 500,000 people in the United States since last year.
Responding to a remark by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who suggested that mask mandates and distancing guidelines were “arbitrary” and not rooted in public health research, Fauci insisted that the CDC’s guidance on the issue was backed by science.
“First of all, they’re not arbitrary,” Fauci said of restrictions that have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus. “They’re based on evidence and data from science.”
“We know that these interventions work. It’s very clear. When you implement them, you see the cases go down. When you pull back, the cases go up,” he added.
“Now is not the time to pull back,” Fauci warned. “Now’s the time to really crush this by doing both public health measures and accelerating the vaccinations like we’re doing.”