Biden urges patience on Covid as Republican governors go rogue on reopenings
Mar 03, 2021 2 mins, 27 secs
We must remain vigilant, act fast and aggressively and look out for one another," the President said.

But the governors of Texas and Mississippi defied federal government warnings to not relax restrictions and open their economies too fast, going it alone as new infections plateau at high levels and fears grow over a huge spike in the coming weeks.

That means that states like Texas and Mississippi, which were slow to adopt steps like mask wearing, are not just risking their own citizens but all other Americans too.

If new infections take hold before enough Americans are vaccinated, a desire to play into political sentiment that sees government scientific advice as tantamount to an infringement on individual freedom could delay a return to normal life.

"I have to be honest with you, this fight is far from over," Biden said at the White House, warning that the pandemic could begin to get worse as new variants, like those first found in the UK and South Africa, spread.

Yet in Texas, Republican Gov.

Tate Reeves of Mississippi, also announced an end to all county mask mandates and said businesses can open from Wednesday at 100% capacity.

Some states and cities run by Democrats are also doing so, but unlike Texas and Mississippi, they are not acting as though the virus has simply gone away.

The early openings are causing frustration in the White House, as Biden tries to make good on his vow to stamp out the virus and as new breakthroughs in manufacturing vaccines mean that relative safety could be just months away.

"We certainly understand the pressure governors are under and we appreciate the working relationship we have with Gov.

Abbott," Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House Covid-19 response team, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"But at the same time, we think it's a mistake to lift these mandates too early.

Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"It could undo all the incredible work that we have done thus far," Wen said, adding that mask mandates would allow schools to reopen and businesses to get back on their feet -- and were a path toward freedom, not an infringement on it.

'No longer needed'

Abbott said it was now time for Texans to be trusted to take their own precautions to stop Covid-19 and government enforcement was not necessary.

"Make no mistake, Covid-19 has not disappeared, but it is clear from the recoveries, vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations and safe practices that Texans are using that state mandates are no longer needed," he said.

"With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny."

But the idea that vaccinations have changed the game already is undermined by the fact that only 6.5% of Texans have been fully vaccinated -- far short of the figure needed to ensure herd immunity to stop the virus from spreading.


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