The White House has defended Joe Biden’s criticism of the Republican governors of Texas and Mississippi, after the president called his decisions to end the masked terms as “Neanderthal thinking.”
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, emphasized that the president was comparing the governors’ actions to “the behavior of a Neanderthal, just to be very clear, the behavior.” He also said that Biden’s comments were “a reflection of his frustration” that Americans are not following public health guidelines to limit their risk of contracting coronavirus.
“I don’t think your opinion on the wearing of masks is a secret,” Psaki said at the White House briefing on Thursday. “And I’m sure the next time I talk to them, it will be relayed directly.”
The US president had said Wednesday that the country was on the “cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease” with the distribution of vaccines, adding: “The last thing we need is for Neanderthals to think that in the meantime, everything it’s fine. “
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded to Biden on Wednesday, telling CNBC that the comment “was not the kind of word a president should use.” Abbott, who has often been criticized for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, then accused the president of “releasing illegal immigrants in our communities that had Covid”, calling him a “Neanderthal-type approach to dealing with the Covid situation.”
Addressing Abbott’s comments on Thursday, Psaki said: “We are over facts around here. That’s not a fact. ”He added that it was also the responsibility of state and local governments to test and track.
Abbott appeared to be referencing recent reports from Telemundo, who found that some migrants released by the border patrol in Brownsville, Texas, subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. Since the city began testing in January, 108 migrants have tested positive, about 6% of all who have been tested, according to the report.
Abbott’s decision to reopen Texas and abandon its mask mandate goes against the advice of top US health officials. have repeatedly urged states not fully lift the Covid-19 restrictions, as they warned of a possible fourth increase in coronavirus cases driven by new variants.
“We have made it very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions. The next month or two is really critical, ”Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Wednesday.
The president announced Tuesday that the US hopes to have enough coronavirus vaccines for all adults by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated, as his administration announced that drugmaker Merck would help produce its rival’s injection. Johnson & Johnson that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last weekend for emergency use.
But officials in many states have eased restrictions, some more than others. Abbott moved to lift his state’s mask mandate and a host of other limitations, while Mississippi also rescinded its mask mandate effective Wednesday.
Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lowered capacity limits on restaurants and public and residential gatherings. New York announced that arts and entertainment could resume indoors at 33% capacity in April. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker said residents should continue to wear masks in public, but it was time for limits on businesses to be lowered further.
Texas will be the most populous state in the US that does not require residents to cover their faces.
The mayor of the state’s largest city, Houston, disagreed with the move. “It’s a step in the wrong direction, unless the governor is trying to deflect what happened just over two weeks ago with the winter storm,” Sylvester Turner saying, adding: “I’m very disappointed … it doesn’t make sense.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism