Democrat President Joe Biden mocked Texas and Mississippi on Wednesday over the two states announcing that they were fully reopening their economies and lifting mandatory mask mandates.
“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden said in a response to a question about the two states. “Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now these masks make a difference. 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. 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.”
“The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in mean time everything’s fine, take off your mask,” Biden continued. “Forget it. It’s still matters. … And it’s critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science. Wash your hands, hot water, do it frequently. Wear a mask and stay socially distance. And I know you all know that, I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it.”
NEW: President Biden calls Texas and Mississippi decisions to end mask mandates “a big mistake" and criticizes what he views as “Neanderthal thinking” after CDC warned against complacency in the face of emerging coronavirus variants on Monday. pic.twitter.com/Mmdln3gNG6
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 3, 2021
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) fired back at Biden, mockingly calling him “Uniter-in-chief,” while tweeting out a GIF of a Neanderthal.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 3, 2021
However, Biden failed to acknowledge that Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, never instructed people to no longer wear their masks. Rather, Abbott said that “despite these changes” that “removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility or the importance of caring for your family members and caring for your friends and caring for others in your community.”
“Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain COVID,” Abbott said. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed. To stay safe, Texans should continue following medical advice on preventing COVID just as they do on other medical issues.”
“Now, listen, I know that some local officials are concerned that opening the state 100% could lead to a worsening of COVID in their communities,” Abbott continued. “And my executive order addresses that concern. If COVID hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas rise above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, then a county judge in that region may use COVID mitigation strategies in their county. However, under no circumstance can a county judge put anybody in jail for not following COVID orders, and no penalties can imposed for failing to wear a face mask.”
“Today’s announcement does not abandon the safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year,” Abbott concluded. “Instead, as a reminder that each person has their own role to play in their own personal safety as well as in the safety of others. It’s a reminder that individual’s safety is managed every day as a matter of personal responsibility rather than by government mandate. Individual responsibility is a corollary to individual freedom. We can have both.”
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, also a Republican, said that the mask mandate was lifted because no county in the state met the “original criteria for a mask mandate.”
Reeves said that people and businesses can still take extra precautions to protect themselves that they feel are necessary and he urged to people to “continue to listen to [State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs] and other health advisors for the best possible wisdom regarding how you can personally stem any risk of catching COVID.”