Psaki dings Texas, Miss. reopenings: Country has ‘paid the price’ for leaders who ‘ignored the science'

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday hit states moving to reopen this week amid a rosier outlook for coronavirus.

The governors of both Texas and Mississippi announced that they would lift their mask mandates and allow businesses to reopen at full capacity. 

“This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic,” Psaki said, when asked how President Biden feels about the states’ removal of restrictions. “We need to remain vigilant.”

Just after the conference, Biden called the governors’ moves “neanderthal thinking.”

Psaki added that the president’s position on the need for continued mask-wearing was “based on the recommendations of medical experts” who believe doing so “could save 50,000 lives.” She said that the president is hopeful people in Texas and Mississippi will “continue to follow guidelines that have been set out and recommendations from health and medical experts.” Abbott, too, urged Texans to follow appropriate health guidance. 

Asked if Biden plans to speak with the governors about their new orders, Psaki said: “I’m sure he will raise this the next opportunity he has.”

“To be clear, COVID has not, like, suddenly disappeared,” Abbott cautioned during a press conference at a restaurant in Lubbock, Texas on Tuesday. “COVID still exists in Texas, the United States and across the globe, but it is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations and from the safe practices Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed.” He said the restrictions would be lifted next Wednesday. 

Abbott pointed to a number of positive statistics as he detailed the state’s reopening plans, including a reduction in active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and the lowest positivity rate the state has seen in months.

He also noted that the vaccine is a big contributing factor to the state’s ability to safely reopen, saying that health experts expect 7 million shots to have been distributed in the state by next Wednesday.

Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Tate Reeves announced his state’s restrictions would be lifted this Wednesday.

“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules,” Reeves wrote on Twitter Tuesday.  “Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”

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Reeves added in a tweet Wednesday. “Mississippians don’t need handlers. As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.”

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