Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have both made stunning announcements on Tuesday March 2 when they held press conferences declaring that both their states would not only lift their mask mandate but would begin to roll back many of their COVID-19 health mandates.
This goes directly against the advice of the CDC, who only the day before strongly warned about becoming complacent with the virus, despite vaccines giving us a glimmer of hope, by highlighting the issue of the new variants that are springing up from places like South Africa, Brazil and the United Kingdom, to name a few, and finding their way to American shores.
With his state still reeling from a horrific winter storm that exposed a derelict power grid, Gov. Abbott made his announcement from Montelongo’s Mexican Restaurant in Lubbock saying that, although he is aware that the virus has not disappeared, “It is now time to open Texas 100 percent,” going on to insist that state mandates are no longer needed.
Despite Democrats, Republicans and his own local officials who have highlighted the state’s slow vaccination rollout, due in part to the storm, warning that this decision is not only a dangerous one but could turn the nation’s second-largest state into one big superspreader.
His Mississippian counterpart would soon follow suit with similar pronouncements, by massively scaling back COVID-19 protocols in favor of “recommendations,” those being that citizens are still encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing. He justified this decision by first stating that ‘the time for government interference is over’ and that because hospitalizations and cases in general have ‘plummeted’.
Gov. Reeves reasoning flies directly in the face of his own State Health Officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, who was a pains to point out that the pandemic is far from over and that new cases and deaths are still increasing. To the surprise of no one, the steps to roll back COVID restrictions by these Governors have left health officials across the country deeply concerned.
No moreso than CDC Director Rochelle Walensky who said at the daily White House COVID-19 briefing “I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19,” and going on to warn that decisions like this might cause the country to lose the hard earned ground it has gained.
President Biden also chimed in while he was announcing that the U.S. will have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for every adult by the end of May, saying that “This fight is far from over,” and encouraging Americans to keep following the CDC guidelines about washing hands, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
While many have argued that the restrictions have to be lifted to get each states economy, and the country at large, back on track, others have seen this as a political move. Both states voted in favor of President Trump in the 2020 election so their actions are being viewed as not a fight against COVID-19 but rather a fight against the Biden administration and the Democrats policies moving forward.