On Tuesday, the GOP Governors of Texas and Mississippi said they were eliminating Covid-19 restrictions, including mask mandates. Less than 24 hours later, President Joe Biden criticized the controversial decision, imploring the nation’s leaders to “follow the science.”
“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. … The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking — that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.’ It still matters.” — President Joe Biden
In a potentially dangerous break with public health guidance, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asserted on Tuesday that, “It is now time to open Texas 100%” He said all businesses in the state can operate at full capacity starting March 10th. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves made a similar announcement. Both men are under attack for their states’ inept stewardship of public infrastructure. A catastrophic winter storm left millions in the region without power or water.
While vaccinations are becoming more available and daily Covid-19 cases are falling, ABC News reports that doctors in the Lone Star State believe Abbott’s decision will lead to tragedy:
The announcement in Texas, where the virus has killed more than 43,000 people, rattled doctors and big city leaders who said they are now bracing for another deadly resurgence. One hospital executive in Houston said he told his staff they would need more personnel and ventilators.
Rochelle Walensky, Biden’s director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Wednesday, “I think we at the CDC have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions.” She added:
“The next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes. As we scale up vaccination, we really do need to decrease the amount of virus that is circulating as we’re trying to vaccinate all of the public.”
At her daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dodged a question on Gov. Abbot, but said, “the entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic.”