Hotez has become frustrated with people socializing at cafes without masks in his Houston neighborhood. He had been looking forward to a visit by his daughter and her husband from Los Angeles during the holidays. He canceled it when cases in El Paso soared.

“People are choosing to make such horrible decisions because of this medical freedom ideology that came out of Texas and is now being pushed on us by the White House coronavirus task force,” Hotez said. He is at work on a COVID-19 vaccine that’s in clinical trials but will still take months to develop…

“People have quarantine fatigue. They’re tired of it. They want to go over to their friend’s house and have poker night just like they used to,” she said. “Pretty much any contact tracer you talk to, they’re seeing small gatherings and that’s driving the rates up. They’re tired and they want to see their families, so they’re going ahead to the birthday parties.”…

“Walking through the mall, we saw people who didn’t have masks on,” said Sharon Varnado, 66, despite signs warning that masks are required. “They don’t take it seriously. A lot of people don’t comply because it hasn’t hit home.”