Texas has been seeing a record surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said this week he will stop listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist.
“Fauci said today that he’s concerned about states like Texas that skipped over certain things,” Patrick said during an appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We haven’t skipped over anything. The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him.”
Patrick said he took issue with comments Fauci made earlier in the day during a Senate hearing in which the member of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force suggested some states reopened too quickly and skipped White House guidelines in the process.
“He has been wrong every time on every issue,” Patrick added. “I don’t need his advice anymore.”
Patrick has previously defended Texas’ reopening, which was among the first in the country, FOX 4 Dallas reported. But Gov. Greg Abbott paused the state’s reopening plan last week due to a large surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. He rolled back several openings and signed an executive order last Friday closing all bars, according to the station.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”
Fauci told lawmakers Tuesday he was “quite concerned” about the rise of infections in states like Texas, Florida, California and Arizona, which have now become hot spots for the virus. He said the states have seen more than 50 percent of new infections in the U.S and suggested some have been “skipping over” reopening guidelines.
He warned that the U.S could see as many as 100,000 coronavirus cases a day if the recent spike doesn’t subside.
“We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day, I wouldn’t be surprised if we go up to 100,000 [cases] a day if this does not turn around,” Fauci said at the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing. “I am very concerned.”
The White House reopening guidelines include a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.
Texas saw a record 8,076 new coronavirus cases Wednesday following the comments by Patrick. Hospitalizations have also skyrocketed in recent weeks. More than 6,900 people are currently hospitalized in the state, compared to just over 2,000 on June 11.
Texas has now seen more than 171,929 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, the third-highest state total in the U.S, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The state has also seen at least 2,502 deaths from the virus. Patrick argued that the low fatality rate separates Texas from New York, which was once seen as the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S.
Cases and fatalities in New York have greatly decreased in recent weeks following efforts to limit the virus’s curve.
Early during the outbreak, Patrick was criticized after telling Fox News: “There are more important things than living, and that’s saving this country for my children and grandchildren and saving this country for all of us.” He said those remarks in relation to reopening the economy.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Louis Casiano contributed to this story.