Biden calls rollback of restrictions in Mississippi “Neanderthal thinking”

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President Joe Biden is criticizing Mississippi and Texas for rolling back restrictions amid falling COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations.

At 5 p.m. this afternoon, Governor Tate Reeves’ executive order lifting state-issued mask mandates and restrictions on businesses will take effect. During a meeting with the press in the Oval Office this afternoon, President Biden called the move a “big mistake.”

“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,” he went on to say while referencing the accelerated timeline of expanding vaccine distribution. “The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters.”

During his announcement, Governor Reeves noted that the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains and that it’s still recommended for everyone to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and listen to the state’s top medical experts. Taking exception with the president’s comments, Governor Reeves posted a reply on Twitter after saying Tuesday that Mississippians can assess the risk vs. reward of certain activities without continuing to use the “heavy hand of government.”

With around 70,000 new cases per day across the country, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky advised earlier this week that it was too soon to begin rolling back restrictions.

“With these statistics, I am really worried about more states rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19. Seventy thousand cases a day seems good compared to where we were just a few months ago. Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” she said.

While cities and counties can implement mandates of their own, the one place where state-issued mask mandate will remain is in Mississippi’s K-12 schools.

Currently, in Mississippi, hospitalizations have dropped from the post-holiday surge of 1,450 down to around 420. The state has seen 295,675 positive cases and 6,743 deaths. Over 660,000 doses of the vaccine in Mississippi have been administered.

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