Several days after the coronavirus cases numbers entered a steep decline phase, the officials from Mississipi and Texas announced full reopenings of these two states.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott scheduled a full reopening of businesses for March 10th.
This decision would mean that any facility (such as restaurants) would be allowed to work in 100 percent capacity.
At the same time, the mask mandate is about to expire on the state level.
Governor Abbott expressed his belief that the policy change would not significantly affect the disease outcomes in Texas.
Nonetheless, he warned citizens that they should still behave responsibly even though the state does not intend to interfere with their actions anymore.
In Mississipi, similar measures have already come into effect since Governor Tate Reeves signed an executive order which lifted all mask-wearing requirements and allowed businesses to restore their operational capacities.
The order started to apply on March 3rd.
The Mississipi Governor explained that his administration has no further intentions to tell people what they are allowed to do, yet, he pointed out that he recommends Mississipi citizens to follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A Harsh Reaction from President Biden
Decisions from Texas and Mississipi sparked widespread criticisms across the board, eventually leading to the reaction from the federal government.
President Biden described the decisions as large errors that amount to ‘Neanderthal thinking’.
The U.S. President emphasized that more precautions will be mandatory until summer, which is a time he expects the vaccination program to have a significant effect on the COVID-19 spread.
He expressed hope that people have become aware of mask effectiveness and encouraged everyone to follow the science.
Other officials echoed President’s words.
Soon after Governor Abbott’s announcement, White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt described the move as reckless and expressed his hope that Texas Governor will revoke the decision.
Professor Lauren Ancel Meyers, who works on COVID-19 modeling at the University of Texas at Austin, told reporters that the risk was not sufficiently minimized to abolish restrictions.
Given the pandemic duration, it is clear that many people are exhausted by the restrictions they have had to endure so far.
Also, the outcome of the vaccination program is still far away and uncertain. Only time will tell whether the decisions from Texas and Mississipi would cause a catastrophe many public health officials forecast or there would be no significant changes.