Texas lt. governor hits Fauci: 'He doesn't know what he's talking about'

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on Tuesday lambasted Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Trump to take executive action after coronavirus talks collapse | Vaccine official says he'd resign if pressured politically Fauci's DC neighbors put up 'thank you' signs in their yards Cuomo says New York schools can reopen in-person this fall MORE over his assessment of the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S., claiming that his state did not need advice from the nation's top infectious disease expert. 

"Fauci said that he’s concerned about states like Texas that skipped over certain things. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about," Patrick said on Fox News after Fauci testified before a Senate committee about the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak. "We haven’t skipped over anything."

"The only thing I’m skipping over is listening to him," Patrick added. "He has been wrong every time, on every issue. I don’t need his advice anymore. We’ll listen to a lot of science, we’ll listen to a lot of doctors, and [Gov. Greg Abbott (R)], myself and other state leaders will make the decision. No thank you, Dr. Fauci."

ADVERTISEMENT

Patrick made the comments the same day that Texas reported nearly 7,000 new cases of COVID-19, representing a new high in a state that has seen a consistent rise in infections for weeks now. The uptick in cases caused Abbott last week to pause the state's reopening and order bars to close their doors. 

While speaking before Congress on Tuesday, Fauci said that he is "quite concerned" about the rise of infections in states like Texas, Florida, California and Arizona. He noted that the states represented about 50 percent of the country's new infections and suggested that states "skipping over" some reopening guidelines may have played a factor. 

ADVERTISEMENT

But he also said that states following health protocols didn't necessarily lead to better results. He pointed to pictures of people in many different areas around the U.S. disregarding social distancing and not wearing face masks. 

"I think we need to emphasize the responsibility that we have both as individuals and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic that we all have to play a part in that," Fauci said. 

As of Wednesday, the U.S. had reported more than 2.6 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 127,000 deaths caused by it. Fauci warned during his congressional testimony that the U.S. could reach 100,000 new virus cases per day if the country could not control its spread. 

Texas health authorities have reported roughly 160,000 cases of the virus and more than 2,400 deaths from it. Patrick argued that the low fatality rate separates Texas from states such as California and New York, which was once the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. 

Texas became one of the first states to begin gradually reopening portions of its economy in late April. The state entered the third phase of its reopening in early June, which allowed some businesses, including bars, gyms and office buildings, to operate at 50 percent capacity. 

ADVERTISEMENT

As cases began to rise, Abbott implored residents to stay home, saying in a TV interview last week that "because the spread is so rampant right now, there’s never a reason for you to have to leave your home."

Patrick has repeatedly pushed for keeping sectors of the economy open throughout the pandemic. In an interview on Fox News in April, the state official said that “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."

“Last night, Dan Patrick confirmed what we already knew: he and the rest of Texas’ GOP leadership are ignoring the advice of Dr. Fauci and public health experts," Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Abhi Rahman said in a statement. "Their abysmal failure of leadership is costing Texans their lives."

--This report was updated at 2:05 p.m.