AUSTIN, Texas - White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci downplayed the recent decline of Texas coronavirus cases nearly a month after the state rescinded its mask mandate, saying Tuesday it could be premature to conclude the move paid off.
Texas ignored Fauci's advice on masks and social distancing mandates last month when Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the state would be "100 percent" open again, and statistics show COVID cases and hospitalizations in the Lone Star State are dropping.
Two weeks after he lifted the mask mandate, Abbott reported Texas recorded its lowest 7-day COVID positivity rate at 5.43 percent. As of this weekend, the state recorded the fewest number of Texans with the virus in state hospitals since June of last year. Although there was a spike in cases reported on Monday, the seven-day average of them is sharply down since last month.
Yet when MSNBC’s Willie Geist confronted Fauci on "Morning Joe" about Texas’s apparent success on Tuesday, the infectious diseases expert made a dire prediction.
"It can be confusing, because you may see a lag and a delay because often you have to wait a few weeks before you see the effect of what you’re doing right now," Fauci said.
"I’m not really quite sure," he added. "It could be they’re doing things outdoors ... You just have to see in the long-range."
In fact, he’s concerned that he’s watching a rerun.
"We’ve been fooled before by situations where people begin to open up, nothing happens," he said. "And then all of a sudden several weeks later, things start exploding on you. We’ve got to be careful we don’t prematurely judge that."
He warned to not declare victory early.
During his announcement, Abbott made clear that Texans were welcome to employ their own safety measures, regardless of the government's new policy.
"Today's announcement does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year," Abbott said on March 2. "Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others. With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny."
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