President Biden on Wednesday criticized leaders in Texas and Mississippi for ending theirbefore all Americans have access to a vaccine. Mr. Biden said it was "Neanderthal thinking" to believe that "in the meantime, everything is fine, take off your masks."
Republican governors inand Mississippi announced the lifting of their mask mandates this week, before the states have finished vaccinating seniors and vulnerable populations. The Centers for Disease Control and federal health officials have said now is not the time to stop being vigilant, especially given the uptick in variants.
"I think it's a big mistake," the president told reporters on Wednesday at the White House. "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 with 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 the meantime, everything is fine, take off your masks, forget it. It still matters."
Those comments come after the president's announcement that the U.S. will have enoughto cover all Americans by the end of May. It will take longer than that to get those shots into arms.
The president has consistently reminded Americans to wear masks and has made a point of wearing one himself, even after he received both doses of the vaccine. He has urged all Americans to wear a mask for his first 100 days in office — although health officials believe Americans will need to wear masks for longer.
As they do anywhere else, businesses in Texas and in Mississippi will still be able to require customers to wear masks, and under Mr. Biden's authority, everyone on federal property in those states will continue to need to wear a mask.