News and Commentary

‘We’ve Been Fooled Before’: Fauci Still Won’t Concede Texas Should Be Open Despite Stats Indicating Success
Anthony Fauci at a press briefing
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Tuesday, appearing on MSNBC, Dr. Anthony Fauci still would not concede that Texas was correct in letting Texans’ lives get back to normal despite cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 plunging in the state after it “reopened 100%” with no statewide mask mandate on March 10. Fauci stated, “We’ve been fooled before by situations where people begin to open up, nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, several weeks later, things start exploding on you.”

Asked by “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough whether a “fourth wave” was coming, Fauci answered, “Certainly there are upticks in cases, Joe, in multiple states, that’s for sure. You know, we had the big, big peak over the winter, over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. It came back down, and then instead of going all the way down, it plateaued at a really unacceptably high level. It was around 30-40,000 cases per day. But then over the last few weeks it’s creeped up to 50, 55, and then 60,000 cases a day. So what’s happening is that there clearly is an increase.”

“The difference factor that’s what’s going on right now that we’re different from the surges that we saw last year is that we have a highly efficacious vaccine now, that every day at least three to four million people get vaccinated,” he continued. “We have well over 50-60 million people who are vaccinated completely, about 100 million who are vaccinated at least partially, and every day gets better and better. So we’re looking at a kind of a race between the vaccine, which is highly efficacious, and a real — I don’t want to say surge, because a surge means you get a really high increase — we’re seeing it start to creep up now. So the real question is, is the efficacy of the vaccine going to prevent that from going up the way we saw that in previous surges.”

MSNBC’s Willie Geist asked Fauci, “You mentioned Texas and that full ballpark in Arlington yesterday. There was a lot of concern last month when Texas effectively opened up, dropped all those restrictions and said, ‘It’s back to life.’ And if you go to Texas, as you know, it looks like 2019. The restaurants and the bars are full and open; the ballparks are full. And yet, we’ve seen cases and hospitalizations continue to tick downward. So what do you make of that as all of us sort of look around and try to consider how safe it is to return to normal life?”

“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 answered. “You know, there are a lot of things that go into that. When you say they’ve had a lot of activity on the outside like ballgames, I’m not really quite sure. It could be they’re doing things outdoors. It’s very difficult to just one-on-one compare that. You just have to see in the long range. I hope they continue to tick down. If they do that would be great. But there’s always the concern that when you pull back on methods, particularly things like indoor dining and bars that are crowded, you can see a delay that all of a sudden tick right back up. We’ve been fooled before by situations where people begin to open up, nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, several weeks later, things start exploding on you. So we’ve gotta be careful we don’t prematurely judge that.”

Here are some statistics delineating how successful Texas has been since opening up:

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