Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday evening took some direct shots at Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the President’s coronavirus task force.
Specifically, Patrick took issue with comments that Fauci had made earlier in the day during a Senate hearing, when he suggested that some states had reopened too fast and skipped some guidelines in the process.
Texas was among the first states to begin reopening in early May but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has recently reversed course after a spike in coronavirus cases.
In defending Texas’s reopening strategy, Patrick claimed that “Fauci said today that he’s concerned about states like Texas that skipped over certain things.”
“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, we haven’t skipped over anything,” Patrick continued. “The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him.” Patrick also erroneously asserted that Fauci “has been wrong every time on every issue” in the coronavirus pandemic.
Facts First: Based on available data, Patrick is wrong to suggest that Texas didn’t skip over anything when it decided to reopen. When Texas reopened on May 1, the state was not in accordance with the criteria outlined by the White House coronavirus task force. It’s also absurd to suggest that Fauci has been wrong about every issue.
During the Senate hearing, Fauci called out Texas along with three other states that are now hotspots for outbreaks. “As you know, in four of the states – in Florida, Texas, California and Arizona – more than 50% of the new infections are in those areas where we are seeing surges,” Fauci testified.
Fauci then said that “perhaps” some states were “going too quickly and skipping over some of the checkpoints” laid out by the White House guidelines for reopening.
“When states start to try and open again they need to follow the guidelines that have been very carefully laid out with regard to check points,” Fauci said in the hearing. “What we’ve seen in several states are different iterations of that. Perhaps maybe in some, going too quickly and skipping over some of the checkpoints.”
Texas was one of the first states to begin the reopening process, allowing the stay-at-home order to expire and retail shops, theaters, restaurants and other certain businesses to reopen at 25% capacity.
It was also among a majority of states reopening that did so before meeting all of the White House guidelines, according to an analysis from the New York Times.
The White House recommended states have a “downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period” before reopening. But Texas and 17 other states actually had an increase of daily average cases over the two weeks before they planned to open, according to the New York Times.
The White House guidelines also say that “state and local officials may need to tailor the application of these criteria to local circumstances” so it is possible that Texas did fulfill the White House guidelines after taking mitigating factors into account.
Throughout the pandemic, Patrick has been fierce advocate for reopening Texas’s economy and has been ridiculed after suggesting the US economy was “more important” than living.
“There are more important things than living. And that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren,” he told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, shortly before Texas re-opened. “And saving this country for all of us. And I don’t want to die. Nobody wants to die. But man, we’ve got to take some risks.”
Fauci has been a consistent voice of caution on the administration’s Coronavirus Taskforce, and has a decades-long track record of accuracy on infectious diseases. During the pandemic he has urged people to wear masks, regularly wash their hands, and practice social distancing.
In May Fauci warned that states that open too soon could see “little spikes that turn into outbreaks,” and that “The consequences could be really serious.”
Fauci did incorrectly suggest on April 9 that the final death toll “looks more like 60,000 than the 100,000 to 200,000.” However, that was based on a study at the time, and as Fauci notes continuously, “models are only as good as the assumptions” inserted at the time.