The number of new COVID-19 infections in Texas continues to fall after GOP Gov. Greg Abbott removed all pandemic-related restrictions on mask-wearing and gathering, leading supporters to question President Joe Biden’s earlier criticisms and predictions of doom.
As the U.S. is on track to vaccinate the majority of Americans by mid-June thanks to former President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” program of rapid vaccine development and manufacture, new infections in Texas and other states that have reopened continue to decline.
Abbott praised his state’s successes on Friday in a tweet: “Today Texas recorded the lowest 7-day COVID positivity rate since that data began being calculated: 5.3%.”
Health experts have also pointed out that some 99 percent of Americans who tested positive for coronavirus or came down with it recovered quickly and were not seriously ill.
“We also recorded the largest daily number of vaccines administered to Texans: 342,849. More Texans getting vaccines will keep down the positivity rate,” Abbott continued, noting that receiving the vaccine was “always voluntary.”
Today Texas recorded the lowest 7-day Covid positivity rate since that data began being calculated: 5.43%.
We also recorded the largest daily number of vaccines administered to Texans: 342,849.
More Texans getting vaccines will keep down the positivity rate.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 26, 2021
So, too, is wearing a mask.
According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, there were 2,239 new cases of the virus on Saturday, about 500 fewer on average from the week prior, data show.
The decline in COVID positives comes after Biden ripped Abbott’s decision earlier this month, which was followed quickly by Gov. Tate Reeves (R) in Mississippi.
Biden called Abbott’s moves “Neanderthal thinking.”
“We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough [vaccines] for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “The last thing we need is the Neanderthal thinking.”
Other states like Florida and Missouri that have largely remained open for months have also seen declines in COVID sicknesses, as have states like South Dakota which never shut down.
Still, though vaccines are meant to immunize the population, several government health experts including Biden chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci continue to warn against lifting restrictions too soon, citing the rise in contagious variants of COVID-19.
“We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough [vaccines] for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot,” Biden told reporters at the White House earlier this week. “The last thing we need is the Neanderthal thinking.”
That said, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House press briefing Friday that cases are up about 7,000 per day nationwide or a 7 percent increase week-over-week.
“I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory,” Walensky said. “We have seen cases and hospital admissions move from historic declines to stagnations and increases. We know from prior surges that if we don’t control things now, there is a real potential for the epidemic curve to soar again.”
She added that about 140 million Americans have been vaccinated thus far, with 2.5 million per day receiving shots.
“Please keep wearing your well-fitting mask and taking the public health actions now that we know can reverse these concerning trends,” she added.
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