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Biden calls it "Neanderthal thinking" slams Texas and Mississippi's decisions to lift COVID-19 mask mandates

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Biden calls it \

2021-03-04 07:23:45

By Dwaipayan


Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, has spoken out against the reopening of states including Texas and Mississippi, calling their decisions to lift mask mandates "inexplicable."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that Texas would become the largest state yet to lift its statewide mask mandate. The state would reopen "100%," he said. That same day, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said county-specific mask mandates would be lifted, alongside many other COVID-19 restrictions throughout the state.

Other states including Michigan, Massachusetts, and Louisiana lifted some restrictions over the course of February, including mask mandates and capacity limits for venues such as restaurants. Public-health experts and some government officials have criticized the states' decisions. Fauci, who is President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor, said it was too early to lift restrictions.

Fauci said national cases had plateaued over the past week, but that the country was still recording between 55,000 and 70,000 new coronavirus cases a day.

States lifting coronavirus safety measures in the past have caused "troublesome" rebounds, he said. "What we don't need right now is another surge," he said.

When the country gets its coronavirus case rate low enough, lifting measures will still cause "little blips," but they would be manageable, he said.

Biden on Wednesday called Texas and Mississippi's decisions "a big mistake," and a result of "Neanderthal thinking."

Dr. Natasha Kathuria, a Texas-based emergency-medicine physician with expertise in public health and epidemiology, told Insider's Lauren Frias that Abbott's decision to reopen the state "may have dire consequences."

She said only 7% of Texans had been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, compared to the roughly 75% she said was required to achieve herd immunity. The winter storms in February disrupted vaccine operations, as well as wider healthcare facilities, in Texas and nearby states. Despite states rolling back COVID-19 restrictions, some companies, including Target, Macy's, and Kroger, have said they will still require staff and customers masks.




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