President Joe Biden slammed Texas and Mississippi on Wednesday for lifting state lockdowns, mocking the decision as “Neanderthal thinking.”
Biden spoke to reporters at the White House Wednesday afternoon, a day after the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi announced that they were ending pandemic lockdown policies and reopening their states. Biden said the governors were ignoring “science” and emphasized the use of masks.
“I think it’s a big mistake. Look, I hope everybody has realized by now these masks make a difference,” Biden said. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way … we are 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 adult American to get a shot.”
“The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything is fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters,” he continued. “As of yesterday, we have lost 511,874 Americans. We’re going to lose thousands more.”
“We will not have everybody vaccinated until sometime in the summer. We have the vaccine to do it; getting a shot in someone’s arm and [giving] them a second shot,” he concluded. “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 distanced. 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
Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi announced on Tuesday that they were lifting emergency lockdown policies on their states and allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity. Following Biden’s Wednesday comments, Reeves hit back at the president suggesting that he had denigrated Mississippians.
“President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is ‘Neanderthal thinking,’” Reeves tweeted. “Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.”
President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is “neanderthal thinking.”
Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) March 3, 2021
Abbott and Reeves celebrated their states’ reopening while touting the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.
“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott said. “Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%.”
“So today, I’m issuing a new executive order that rescinds most of the earlier executive orders,” Abbott said. “Effective next Wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%. That includes any type of entity in Texas. Also, I’m ending the statewide mask mandate.”
Reeves quickly followed with his own announcement, saying, “Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules. Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”