Mar 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

The big picture: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to fall across much of the U.S. and the Biden administration expects to produce enough vaccines for 300 million adults by the end of May.

  • But CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned states on Monday that "now is not the time" to lift public health restrictions.
  • While the average of 70,000 new infections and 2,000 daily deaths is nowhere near the extremely high levels recorded at the start of 2021, the figures are still a poor baseline to "stop a potential fourth surge" — especially with the threat posed by more contagious new variants, Walensky warned.

What they're saying: "I hope everybody realizes by now, these masks make a difference. We're 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.

Video courtesy of NBC

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