Dr. Fauci: 'Very Likely the Case' That Michigan Lifted Covid Restrictions Too Soon

April 01, 2021, 8:10 PM by  Allan Lengel

Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious, disease doctor, said Thursday that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer "very likely" eased Covid restrictions too soon in Michigan, where cases are surging. He also expressed concern about the low percentage of Detroiters getting vaccinated.

During a remote interview on WXYZ, anchor Dave LewAllen mentioned to Fauci that Whitmer has eased restrictions on restaurants, bars and schools, and asked: "Did we open up too quickly?"

"You know that's very likely the case," Fauci said. "I hesitate to criticize anything the governor did because she's really quite a good governor. But I think the idea of pulling back prematurely under pressure, it's understandable why you might want to do that, but the results I think are being manifested in what you're seeing in Michigan." 

He said he's far more concerned about the dangers of easing restrictions on bars and restaurants than schools.

Whitmer had been one of the tougher governors when it came to Covid restrictions while facing harsh criticism from Republicans and some in the business community.  She recently eased up restrictions on restaurants and bars. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci: "It's quite concerning." (Photo: NIH)

Since then, Covid numbers have surged, though some of that may be from people letting down their guards, thinking all is well because of the rapid pace of vaccine distribution.

On Thursday, Michigan recorded 6,036 new Covid cases and 49 deaths, 33 of which were occurred before Wednesday and were found during record reviews. The state also announced the first confirmed case of a highly contagious Brazil variant.

Fauci said the Covid surge in Michigan could be attributed partly or largely to variants in the state. 

LewAllen also told Fauci that the vaccination rate in Detroit is less than 19 percent of eligible recipients, compared to 34 percent statewide.

"It's quite concerning," Fauci said, "particularly if you have a high demographic group of minorities in a city. African Americans and Hispanics are much more vulnerable to seroius consequences once they get infected. So, I would want to see an increae in vaccinations in the city all around, but particularly for minorities."

When asked about the 20 percent fan limit at Comerica Park, Fauci said he saw no problem because it's outside, and so long as people follow guidelines and wear masks.


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