Nation’s top infection disease expert says easing virus restrictions in Mississippi ‘really risky’

Published 10:39 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2021

America’s top infection disease doctor and chief medical advisor to President Biden called Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves’ decision to end COVID-19 restrictions as “really risky.”

Reeves announced Tuesday that the state would be ending state mask mandates and restrictions on the capacity of certain types of businesses. Reeves kept the mask restrictions in place for K-12 schools. Local mask restrictions are allowed to remain in place, the governor said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking at a Wednesday town hall sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said the decision by Texas and Mississippi was not wise.

“I think that was ill-advised,” Fauci said. “It is really quite risky to do that.”

Fauci said while the numbers of cases have dropped, the numbers seem to have plateaued lately.

“To completely pull back on all public health measures, you want that level to be remarkably low – very, very low – and 60 to 70,000 per day is not low,” he said. “I think that is really risky.”

Fauci said he recommended people continue to wear face masks when around people not in their immediate families.

Fauci said he fears the elimination of the restrictions may cause cases to rise again.

“We don’t want to claim premature victory,” he said. “Even though the slope is coming down sharply, if you look at the last seven-day average, it’s done this (as he gestured a flat line with his hand).

“That’s a dangerous sign,” he said. “That has happened in the past. When you pull back on measures of public health, invariably you’ve seen a surge back up.”