A prominent aspect of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response is his insistence that Americans wear masks at all times, at least through his first 100 days in office.
A number of states, however, most notably Texas and Mississippi, have announced dates when state-level mask mandates will be lifted. This has Biden’s administration scrambling to respond to the direct undermining of the president’s own demands regarding mandatory mask-wearing, Breitbart reported.
On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that the state mask mandate would be lifted March 10, followed shortly thereafter by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) who announced that his state’s mask mandate would be lifted March 3.
According to Business Insider, those two states joined several others that have recently announced an easing of pandemic-related restrictions, especially statewide mask mandates, including Arkansas, Iowa, and Montana, which now join states like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and North Dakota, where mask mandates have already been lifted or were never enforced.
“Now is not the time to let up”
In a speech delivered at the White House on Tuesday, President Biden didn’t call out any of those states by name, but nonetheless made it clear that he didn’t agree with the growing movement of relaxed restrictions, particularly with regard to mask-wearing.
After heralding progress on the vaccine front, Biden cautioned, “But I have to be honest with you: This fight is far from over.”
“Though we celebrate the news of the third vaccine, I urge all Americans: Please keep washing your hands, stay socially distanced, wear masks — keep wearing them, get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Now is not the time to let up,” he continued. “I’ve asked the country to wear masks for my first 100 days in office. Now is not the time to let our guard down. People’s lives are at stake.”
“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot let our guard down now or assure that victory is inevitable. We can’t assume that,” Biden added. “We must remain vigilant, act fast and aggressively, and look out for one another. That’s how we’re going to get ahead of this virus, get our economy going again, and get back to our loved ones.”
On Wednesday, however, Biden was a bit sharper in his critique of the states lifting mask mandates, while speaking with reporters inside the White House, according to Bloomberg.
“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden said. “Look, I hope everyone has realized by now these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease.”
“The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters,” he continued.
“It’s critical — critical, critical — that they follow the science,” Biden added. “Wash your hands, hot water, do it frequently. Wear a mask and stay socially distanced. I know you all know that. I wish to heck some of our elected officials knew it.”