White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that “this entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic” following Mississippi and Texas governors dropping mandates to wear face coverings during the public health crisis.
She said the administration hopes that the states will continue to follow guidance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention as well as President Joe Biden’s campaign to wear masks within the first 100 days of his administration.
“We’re asking people to listen to health experts, medical experts, the CDC, to [Dr Anthony Fauci], to others who are basing their recommendations on how to save people’s lives,” she said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, both Republicans, announced that their states will drop mandates for their residents to wear masks to combat the transmission of Covid-19.
The states also will remove all other coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses, allowing businesses including restaurants to open at full capacity.
“The governor’s office is getting out of the business of telling people what they can and cannot do,” Governor Reeves said on Tuesday.
Texas has the third-highest coronavirus death toll after California and New York. More than 44,000 Texans have died from the disease.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Abbott announced that he was issuing an executive order to rescind his previous orders that set the restrictions.
“Effective next Wednesday, all business of any type, are allowed to open 100 per cent,” he said.
Louisiana, which sits between those states on the Gulf Coast, has not dropped restrictions.
Nationwide, coronavirus infections, deaths and hospitalisations have dropped from the peak of a deadly winter surge, but health officials have expressed concern that the decline has plateaued and have specifically warned against relaxing restrictions.