Fauci Decries Governors Easing COVID Restrictions: ‘Risky To Say It’s Over’

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wears a protective mask during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the James ... WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wears a protective mask during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. The White House held its first Coronavirus Task Force briefing in months as cases of COVID-19 are surging across the country ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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February 28, 2021 10:29 a.m.

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday warned governors nationwide against easing COVID-19 restrictions amid declining rates of infection along with vaccinations increasing, citing his concerns over the country getting “back to the road of rebounding.”

Appearing on CNN Sunday morning, Fauci said that he agrees with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s remarks this week urging the public to not “give in to a false sense of security” that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. Walensky delivered her warning the same week that the country hit more than 500,000 COVID-19 fatalities thus far.

Asked whether governors’ moves to ease some COVID-19 restrictions as infection rates decline — such as New York opening movie theaters as well as Massachusetts and North Carolina relaxing capacity restrictions on indoor dining — Fauci explained why he views those decisions as premature.

“If you look at the curve, it’s coming down sharply, but the last several days it’s kind of plateaued at around 70,000 new infections per day,” Fauci said. “Let’s look at what history has taught us. If you go back and look at the various surges, whenever we hit a peak and start coming down, understandably, totally understandably, you say, well, let’s pull back. We’re going to ultimately be pulling back, but you want to get the level of baseline infections per day very low.”

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Fauci pointed to variants in California and New York in arguing that it’s “really risky” to think the fight against COVID-19 is over, and reflected on what happened in the past year when restrictions were pulled back.

“It is really risky to say it’s over, we’re on the way out, let’s pull back. Because what we can see is that we turn up,” Fauci said. “It isn’t hypothetical because just look historically at the late winter, early spring of 2020, at the summer of 2020 when we started to pull back prematurely, we saw the rebound. We don’t want that to happen.”

Fauci reiterated that he agrees with Walensky about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions being a premature move. Fauci warned that rolling back restrictions raises the possibility of the country going “right back to the road of rebounding.”

“I think obviously each individual state and city needs to look at the situation in their own location where they are. But, in general, to think just because the cases are coming down on a daily basis — take a look at the pattern,” Fauci said. “Just watch over the next several days to a week. If we do this and start coming up, then we’re going to go right back to the road of rebounding.”

Watch Fauci’s remarks below:

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