The nation's top infectious disease specialist on Sunday warned state governors not to "turn the switch on and off" by lifting coronavirus restrictions too quickly.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, urged state officials to wait for further guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Governors of Mississippi and Texas last week ended statewide mask mandates and allowed businesses to operate at 100% capacity. Biden said such positions represented "Neanderthal thinking."
"The message we're saying is that we do want to come back carefully and slowly," Fauci said on CBS' "Face the Nation. "But don't turn that switch on and off because it really would be risky to have yet again another surge, which we do not want to happen because we're plateauing at quite a high level."
"We need to gradually pull back as we get more people vaccinated," Fauci said.
He also said guidelines for how vaccinated people should interact with unvaccinated people will be announced in the "next couple of days."
"Every day that goes by that we keep the lid on things will get better and better because we're putting now at least two million vaccinations into the arms of individuals each day. And as the days and weeks go by, you have more and more protection, not only of individuals, but of the community. So we're going in the right direction. We just need to hang in there a bit longer," he said.
Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.), who rescinded restrictions in his state last week, defended his decision during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."
"We have seen significantly reduced levels" of transmission, Reeves said. "And, oh, by the way, unlike President Biden, who wants to insult Americans and insult Mississippians, I actually trust Mississippians to make good decisions. They have proven throughout the last year that they can do so. And that's something that I think is very important."
He said, "The fact is, the numbers don't justify government interaction at the levels that we're seeing in other states."
However, he said he still encourages residents to wear masks.
"I don't only recommend it. I encourage it. If you have not received the vaccination, and you are going into a large crowd, or if you're going out to dinner, I strongly encourage Mississippians and people across the country to wear a mask, because I believe that it does, in fact, reduce the ability of individuals to spread the virus," Reeves said.