President BidenJoe Biden Chief of the Intercept Office: Minimum wage was not a ‘high priority’ for Biden in COVID-19 relief South Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative method of execution Obama’s student, Seth Harris, to serve as employment advisor to Biden: report MORE on Wednesday he denounced the governors of Texas and Mississippi for lifting restrictions on the coronavirus, calling the movements “Neanderthal thinking.”
“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office when asked about the two states that lifted their mask mandates and all capacity limits on companies on Tuesday.
“I hope everyone has realized by now that these masks make a difference.” “We are about to be able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way we can put vaccines in people’s arms.”
He noted that there will be enough vaccines available for all adults in May.
“The last thing we need is for Neanderthal to think that in the meantime everything is fine, take off your mask, forget it,” he said. “It still matters.”
President Biden on Texas and Mississippi lifting his mask mandates across the state: “I think it’s a big mistake … It’s critical, critical, critical that they follow the science …” pic.twitter.com/ETcTJw04ij
– CSPAN (@cspan) March 3, 2021
“We won’t get everyone vaccinated until sometime in the summer,” Biden said.
He said people should keep wearing masks, washing their hands, and distancing themselves from others in the meantime.
“I know everyone knows,” he told reporters. “I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew about it.”
Biden’s comments mark a major escalation in White House rhetoric. Public health officials earlier in the day reiterated broadly that now is not the time to lift restrictions, but avoided naming specific states.
The country is at a precarious moment in the course of the pandemic, experts say, with the promise of widespread vaccinations in a few months, raising hopes for a dramatic improvement in the situation by the summer.
But experts say continued late-leg restrictions are important before vaccines become widely available, especially with the rise of more infectious variants of the virus.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday cited ongoing vaccinations as a reason to lift the mask mandate and all capacity limits.
“Now we must do more to restore Texans’ livelihoods and normalcy by opening Texas 100 percent,” he said.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) had a similar message Tuesday.
“Executive orders that interfered with people’s lives were the worst, but the only intervention possible for much of the past year,” he tweeted. “Now, we are focusing on rapid vaccine delivery. We are getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do.”
Updated at 2:42 pm