Washington, Mar 3 (efe-epa).- President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that the decision by the Texas and Mississippi governors to end their statewide facemask mandates initially implemented to protect the public against Covid-19 was a “big mistake,” adding that the last thing the country needs while the pandemic is still raging is “Neanderthal thinking.”
“I think it’s a big mistake,” the president told reporters on Wednesday at the White House just before a scheduled meeting on the fight against cancer. “Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference.”
“The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your masks, forget it. It still matters,” he concluded.
Biden was responding to questions from reporters about the decision of Republican Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi to revoke their orders for people to wear facemasks in their states.
The president noted that the US is “on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way with which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms,” referring to the ongoing US vaccination program.
“We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot,” Biden said, adding at that point that the last thing the country needs is for people to simply feel that everything is fine and they can take off their facemasks.
The president repeated several times that it was vital for state leaders to “follow the science” and health experts’ recommendations, such as for people to wash their hands, wear a facemask and maintain social distancing.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki emphasized at her daily press briefing after being asked about Texas and Mississippi that “This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic.”
“People are starting to feel a little bit better in some cases. You go to the grocery store and there’s Clorox wipes available. A year into this, that feels better, but there’s still more that needs to be done. We need to remain vigilant,” she said.
“We’re not asking people just to listen to the president,” Psaki went on to say. “Of course, we recommend that, but we ask people to listen to health experts, medical experts, the CDC, to Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, to others who are basing their recommendations on how to save people’s lives.”
On Tuesday, Biden promised that the US will have enough anti-Covid-19 vaccine available for all the country’s adults before the end of May, two months earlier than had been calculated.
Also on Tuesday, the Texas and Mississippi governors announced that they were rescinding their mask mandates and allowing businesses to open to their full capacity, despite warnings from medical authorities that we are still in the middle of the pandemic.
Both governors justified their moves by pointing to the recent decline in coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations and the pace of the anti-Covid inoculation campaign.
Although in recent days, the average daily number of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases has declined markedly in the US to below 70,000 per day, compared with some 300,000 per day at the beginning of this year, authorities continue to warn that the danger of infection still exists, especially due to the appearance of new and potentially more infectious strains of the virus.
The US has been the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than 28.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 518,000 deaths, according to the latest independent tally by The Johns Hopkins University.