President Biden criticized decisions by the governors of Mississippi and Texas to lift their state’s mask mandate as “Neanderthal thinking” during a talk with reporters on Wednesday.
“I hope everyone has realized by now these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease,” Biden said, in comments reported by Bloomberg.
“The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it,” the president added. “It’s critical, critical, critical that they follow the science….Wear a mask and stay socially distanced. I know you all know that. I wish to heck some of our elected officials knew it.”
Governor Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that he would rescind restrictions on businesses to reopen Texas “at 100 percent,” and revoke the state’s mask mandate by the middle of next week. The state’s daily reported coronavirus cases are far lower than their peak in mid-January, and over 13 percent of residents have received at least one vaccine shot.
“Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain COVID,” Abbott said, admonishing residents to continue to follow mitigation guidelines where necessary. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed.”
Mississippi governor Tate Reeves announced a similar policy on Tuesday, signing an executive order that lifts coronavirus restrictions on businesses in favor of statewide guidelines residents may choose to follow.
“The governor’s office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do,” Reeves said.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautioned against relaxing coronavirus restrictions at a White House press conference on Wednesday.
“Every individual is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what states decide,” Walensky said.