“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden told reporters in the White House’s Oval Office in Washington.
Biden said that masks make a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said that the nation is making progress with vaccines, but “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask and forget it.”
As he’s done multiple times recently, Biden referenced a card that he carries with him that has the number of Americans whose deaths have involved COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“As of yesterday, we had lost 511,874 Americans. We’re going to lose thousands more … We’ll not have everybody vaccinated until sometime in the summer. We have the vaccine to do it. Getting a shot in someone’s arm and getting the second shot, you’re going to take time. And 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,” he added.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday said that ending the statewide mask mandate stemmed from multiple factors, including the advancements of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19.
“Texas now has the tools to protect Texans from the virus. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans by opening Texas 100 percent,” the Republican said at a restaurant in Lubbock.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, also of the GOP, soon after announced the state would be lifting all mask mandates and allowing businesses to fully reopen.
“Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is the time!” he wrote in a tweet.
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have dropped sharply across the United States in recent weeks. Some say that means restrictions should be loosened or done away with, but others argue people should double down on being cautious to avoid a resurgence.
“I think, we, at the CDC, have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters in a virtual briefing on Wednesday.
“I will also note that, you know, every individual has—is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what the states decide for personal health, for public health, for their health of their loved ones and communities. I would still encourage individuals to wear masks, to socially distance, and to do the right thing to protect their own health.”