President Joe Biden slams the decision to repeal the mask law as “neanderthal thinking.”


The two US states’ defiance of federal guidance and abandonment of mask standards reflects local discontent with restrictions at a time when Covid-19 caseloads in the US are decreasing and vaccine delivery is accelerating.

Even as Covid-19 continues to rage around the world, with Brazil seeing record deaths, US President Joe Biden blasted “Neanderthal” decisions to repeal mask-wearing mandates in Texas and Mississippi on Wednesday.

The two US states’ defiance of federal guidance and abandonment of mask standards reflects local discontent with restrictions at a time when Covid-19 caseloads in the US are decreasing and vaccine delivery is accelerating.

Similar unrest is raging across Europe, with the Swiss government declaring that a referendum on the legitimacy of government powers to order lockdowns will be held in June.

A suspected bomb went off at a coronavirus research centre in the Dutch town of Bovenkarspel, shattering windows but causing no casualties. Officials described the explosion as a “cowardly act of destruction,” which was still under investigation.

Riots against corona-virus curfews and the torching of another research center in January shook the Netherlands.

Biden is praising a boom in vaccine development in the US, claiming that by May, there will be enough vaccines for everybody in the country — though it may take months longer for everyone to get the shots.

However, he told reporters at the White House that now is not the time to unwind. More than half a million Americans have died as a result of the coronavirus, and the death toll continues to increase on a regular basis.

He called the decisions in Texas and Mississippi “massive errors.”

“The last thing we need is for Neanderthal to believe that all is well in the meantime — take off your mask and forget it. It’s still important.”

“Now is not the time to release all restrictions,” said Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“How this pandemic plays out for the next month or two is critical.”

Greece and Brazil have been particularly hard hit.

The global pandemic, which has now lasted a year, is increasingly boiled down to a race between the virus’s spread and governments’ ability to administer an ever-growing list of vaccines.

Although the number of cases is declining in some countries, Greece extended its lockdown until March 16 and demanded additional private health services as it witnessed its highest daily infection rate this year.

“We are in the midst of the pandemic’s most difficult phase,” Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias told reporters.

Brazil, on the other hand, recorded a second consecutive day of record Covid-19 deaths, taking the number to over 259,000.

On Wednesday, Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest province, announced “code red” restrictions on the coronavirus, forcing non-essential businesses to close for two weeks.

Governor Joao Doria said, “We’re going to have the two worst weeks since March last year.”

“The health-care system in Sao Paulo and Brazil is on the verge of collapsing.”

Doria blamed the pandemic’s current surge in Latin America’s largest nation on his political foe, President Jair Bolsonaro.

“It’s entirely your fault. It’s because of your denial,” he said in a press conference, addressing the far-right president.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has begun a new round of mass testing at private businesses in an effort to curb rising infection rates.

“The situation in our hospitals is extremely dangerous. To save lives, we must use all of our reserves,” Health Minister Jan Blatny told reporters.

Other European countries, such as Germany, Poland, and Switzerland, have all provided hospital beds, and the government is in talks to obtain assistance.

The United States has begun to reopen its borders.

While only about 10% of Texas’ over-18s have received two vaccine doses, Republican state governor Greg Abbott said the vaccine and increased testing indicate that normal life will resume.

“For nearly half a year, most companies have been open only 75% or 50% of the time, and too many Texans have been laid off,” he said at a business forum on Tuesday.

“This has to come to an end. To applause from the crowd, he said, “It’s time to open Texas 100 percent.”

Many Texans applauded the decision, claiming that wearing a mask was a personal preference.

The decision, however, was characterised as “disheartening” by Houston’s Democratic mayor.

Last month, Iowa and Montana relaxed their limits, and restaurants in Massachusetts no longer have a capacity limit.

Some Democratic-led cities, such as San Francisco, are taking steps toward a post-pandemic future by authorising limited-capacity indoor dining and museum openings.