Texas recorded no deaths from the COVID-19 virus on Sunday, for the first time since state health officials began tracking the disease in March 2020 and amid a 13-month low in cases, just weeks after being criticized by President Joe Biden for reopening and ditching pandemic mandates.
Two months ago, Biden labeled Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s rescission of those mandates “Neanderthal thinking,” as the action also drew negative responses from other Democrats and federal health officials.
“I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference,” Biden said in early March following Abbott’s announcement. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.
“The last thing — the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters,” he added.
But clearly, Abbott’s decision has not had a deleterious effect on the Lone Star State, as COVID infections and deaths have steadily declined since March 2, according to data.
In recognition of the milestone, Abbott tweeted the news Sunday with this added message: “Thanks Texans!”
Abbott’s spokesperson Renae Eze added that the governor was “clear in telling Texans that COVID hasn’t ended and that all Texans should follow medical advice and safe practices to continue containing COVID.”
Today Texas reported:
* 0 Covid related deaths–the only time that's happened since data was tracked in March, 2020.
* the fewest Covid cases in over 13 months
* the lowest 7-day Covid positivity rate ever
* the lowest Covid hospitalizations in 11 months.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 17, 2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also lifted COVID mandates and mask-wearing early on, and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves followed up Abbott with his own order ending the mask mandates.
“President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is ‘neanderthal thinking.’ Mississippians don’t need handlers,” Reeves tweeted.
“As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them,” he added.
“Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!”
The country’s lead immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also criticized the decisions to pull back on the restrictions.
“It‘s just inexplicable why you would want to pull back now,” Fauci told CNN. “I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you‘re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines, particularly when we‘re dealing with anywhere from 55,000 to 75,000 infections per day in the United States. That‘s a very, very high baseline.“
The contrast between red and blue states in terms of COVID mandates could not be starker, though.
“Public health experts have been left scratching their heads as largely conservative states like Texas and Florida reopened early against their advice, with little consequence, while liberal states like California and New York maintained mask mandates but saw persistently high Covid case rates,” the UK’s Daily Mail reported Monday.
Some have suggested that’s because red states reopening sooner mean that their residents reached herd immunity faster, though there is no evidence to prove that.
In any event, Texas’ continued drop in COVID infections and deaths also come as most Americans generally are becoming vaccinated or have recovered from the disease.
Overall, the U.S. saw fewer than 17,000 new COVID cases on Sunday, the lowest figure since the pandemic really began to spread in March 2020.
Last week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky released new guidance saying that vaccinated Americans no longer had to mask up or socially distance indoors or outdoors, which caught many people by surprise.
Leftists have pushed back on the CDC’s new guidance, however, claiming it is still too early and that ditching masks will disincentivize Americans from getting the vaccine.
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