UNITED STATES – One after the other, American states are lifting the restrictions put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19, building on the ongoing massive vaccination campaign and the decline in contamination curves in recent weeks .
Highly premature measures, tackle in return the president and the health authorities, who cry recklessness. It is “a big mistake”, answered them Joe Biden this Wednesday, March 3.
“The last thing we need is some Neanderthal reasoning that says everything is fine right now, ‘take off your masks’, ‘forget about it’,” he added from the White House.
NEW: President Biden calls Texas and Mississippi decisions to end mask mandates “a big mistake” and criticizes what he views as “Neanderthal thinking” after CDC warned against complacency in the face of emerging coronavirus variants on Monday. pic.twitter.com/Mmdln3gNG6
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 3, 2021
“This is not the time to lift all restrictions,” also hammered in the morning Rochelle Walensky, director of the American Centers for the Prevention and Control of Diseases (CDC), the country’s main federal public health agency.
Vaccinated by the end of May?
These calls to continue efforts, in a country weary of a year of fluctuating restrictions, are struggling to be heard in the face of competition for good news. First, the daily case and death levels are much lower than they were a few weeks ago.
Then, the vaccination campaign is in full swing, with now three authorized vaccines: those of the Pfizer / BioNTech alliance, of Moderna, and for a few days, of Johnson & Johnson, whose first injections began on Tuesday.
And on Tuesday, Joe Biden brought forward by two months the date when enough doses to immunize all American adults will be available: it will be the end of May, and no longer the end of July, he announced.
Reopen ”to 100%”
Buoyed by encouraging statistics, many politicians believe that now is the time to ease restrictions, which are largely dependent on local authorities in the United States.
It’s time to reopen “100%,” said Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday, saying the nation’s second most populous state now had “the means to protect” its people. But the city’s Democratic mayor disagreed: “Every time we start to move in the right direction, the governor steps in and takes us back,” Sylvester Turner tweeted. He “is wrong to lift the obligation to wear a mask,” he said.
Same thing in Mississippi on Wednesday, where everything reopened 100% and without a mask. Last month, Iowa and Montana also made that decision. In Massachusetts, restaurants have no capacity limit since Monday, thanks to the drop in “cases and hospitalizations”, justified the Republican governor.
In South Carolina, also since Monday, gatherings are no longer limited to 250 people. And Democratic cities, such as San Francisco, are following the same movement: from Wednesday, it will again be possible to eat indoors at restaurants or go to museums (with capacity limitations).
The United States is far from being out of the woods, warn experts, who fear in particular the effect of the new variants. The British, which is more easily transmitted, should be in the majority in the country by mid-March.
See also on The HuffPost: Donald Trump back on the political scene, with the same speech