United States President Joe Biden has criticized the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the states of Texas and Mississippi against advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), calling the decision “Neanderthal thinking.”
“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden said when asked about the decisions made by Republican Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi this week to ease restrictions, including allowing businesses to open at full capacity and removing mask mandates.
“These masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” Biden said.
“The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine,” Biden added.
Reeves responded to Biden’s criticism, tweeting that “Mississippians don’t need handlers.”
Abbott’s Press Secretary Renae Eze meanwhile told CNN, “It is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations, and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed.”
Biden’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci also criticized the states’ decisions to lift restrictions, telling CNN that “it certainly, from a public health standpoint, is ill-advised.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also advised during a media briefing at the White House last March 1 that “now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Walensky reiterated her calls on March 3 to wear masks and to practice physical distancing.
“Every individual is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what the states decide,” Walensky said.
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