U.S. health officials caution governors against easing restrictions, warning that a recent plunge in virus cases ‘may be stalling.’ | Press "Enter" to skip to content

U.S. health officials caution governors against easing restrictions, warning that a recent plunge in virus cases ‘may be stalling.’

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On Friday, Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina, a Republican, announced that on Monday, restaurants would be able to serve alcohol past 11 p.m., and residents would not need to get approval from the state to hold events with 250 people or more. To try to limit the spread of the virus, the state last year ordered bars to stop serving alcohol after 11 p.m., which is three hours earlier than the late-night bar crowd was used to.

On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said he was considering lifting a statewide mask mandate in place since July.

In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves said he was also considering pulling back some restrictions, particularly mask mandates for people who have been fully vaccinated. As of Thursday, just over 12 percent of the state’s population has received at least one shot, and 5.5 percent have received two, according to a Times database.

Dr. Fauci echoed Dr. Walensky’s warnings that more rollbacks at state or local levels would be unwise, noting that case levels remained at a “very precarious position.”

“We don’t want to be people always looking at the dark side of things, but you want to be realistic,” he said. “So we have to carefully look at what happens over the next week or so with those numbers before you start making the understandable need to relax on certain restrictions.”

The doctors’ comments came as the Biden administration announced an aggressive push to enlist the help of some of the country’s biggest corporations and business lobbying groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and organizations representing Asian, Black and Latino executives.

The aim is two-fold: to expand the private sector’s contributions beyond the manufacture of vaccines, tests and treatment, and to encourage businesses to give employees time off and the necessary support to get vaccinated, said Andy Slavitt, a senior Biden health adviser.


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