Richard Besser, who served as acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under former President Barack Obama, said he worries that people are discounting Covid numbers as governors decide to reopen their states.
“In Texas, where they removed the mask mandate, fewer than 10% of people have been vaccinated and the levels are higher than the levels were last summer when they put the mandates on in the first place,” Besser said. “I worry we’re getting a little numb to these numbers, and we’re not remembering that each day in America more than 2,000 people are still dying from Covid.”
The governors of Texas and Mississippi announced Tuesday that they are lifting mask mandates and allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity.
“It is now time to open Texas 100%,” Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, announced Thursday that a number of his state’s businesses will be allowed to reopen at full capacity beginning March 19.
Besser told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith,” that states should follow the lead of the CDC and heed the concerns of Director Rochelle Walensky, who said she is still “deeply concerned” about the virus.
“Our recent declines appear to be stalling — stalling at over 70,000 cases a day,” Walensky said during a Monday White House press briefing. “With these new statistics, I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19.”
Besser’s old agency is expected to release new guidelines Friday regarding people who are fully vaccinated. He advised host Shepard Smith that people should manage their expectations.
“I don’t think they’re going to be giving the kind of wholesale green light that a lot of people are hoping for. It’s going to take further downward trend, and it’s going to take more people being vaccinated than we currently have around the country,” Besser said.