Republican Governors Diverge Over Covid Restrictions as Experts Urge Caution

The nation’s top infectious-diseases expert reiterated warnings against dropping Covid-19 restrictions too soon, while Republican governors voiced split views about how quickly to lift state rules.

“We’re going in the right direction. We just need to hang in there a bit longer,”

Anthony Fauci,

President Biden’s chief medical adviser on the pandemic, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Dr. Fauci said the U.S. needs to get virus levels lower and avoid another surge, “and then we will have much a much easier time to safely pull back and get the economy, and all the other things that we want, to be normal.”

He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in coming days would be issuing guidance on what types of activities are now permissible for people who have been vaccinated.

His comments came on the heels of announcements by the states of Texas and Mississippi that they were lifting state mask mandates and business-capacity restrictions.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves,

speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said it was never a realistic goal to completely get rid of the virus, and that the state has focused instead on making sure the state health’s system had the capacity to provide people with quality care.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in a televised announcement last week, said he is lifting the statewide mask mandate.


Justin Rex/Associated Press

“Our approach has been to not only protect lives, but to also protect livelihoods,” he said.

Mr. Reeves said hospitalizations in the state had plummeted and the numbers no longer justified state mandates. “I actually trust Mississippians to make good decisions,” he said.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson,

a neighboring Republican, said a more gradual approach was best for his state, which has a mask mandate in place through March. Lifting it is tied to specific public-health metrics. “I wanted to set a goal and give people hope that we can end the mask mandate,” Mr. Hutchinson said on “Fox News Sunday.” He added, “We wanted an off-ramp. We didn’t want a cliff.”

Arkansas, however, has eased restrictions on businesses. “They’ve struggled, they’ve suffered, and so we wanted to give more flexibility,” he said.

West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice offered direct criticism of states dropping mask requirements, saying more caution is needed.

“Nobody likes a mask but, for crying out loud, if we could be a little more prudent for 30 more days or 45 more days or whatever it took for us to get on rock solid ground, that’s the approach West Virginia is going to take,” he said on CBS.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine,

another Republican, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” said it was too soon to stop playing defense against the virus.

“When we put the mask order on and actually started enforcing it, we saw a significant drop in cases, a slowdown,” Mr. DeWine said. “These masks really, really work and we’re still at a fairly high level” of infections.

Write to Brent Kendall at

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Source: WSJ – US News

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