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Biden Calls State Decisions to End Mask Mandates ‘Neanderthal Thinking’

Under the brand new orders in Texas and Mississippi, non-public companies can keep masks necessities. Many appeared on Wednesday to just do that, with Target and Macy’s among the many largest to say face coverings would stay obligatory in Texas shops. Masks will likely be optionally available for purchasers in H-E-B, a preferred grocery retailer in Texas.

Under Mississippi’s order, cities and counties can nonetheless impose native masks mandates, whereas in Texas, a jurisdiction can impose restrictions provided that Covid-19 hospitalizations rise above a sure stage. And even then, folks can’t be penalized by native governments for not carrying masks.

Dr. Mary Carol Miller, a doctor at Greenwood Leflore Hospital within the Mississippi Delta, mentioned that even a flippantly enforced statewide masks order was useful, sending the message that the virus was nonetheless circulating and that masks have been the very best safety. Without the order, she noticed weeks forward of extra illness, hospitalizations and deaths in part of the nation the place the pandemic has already been devastating.

“The light’s there at the very end of the tunnel, and now we’ve made the tunnel longer,” Dr. Miller mentioned. “It’s foolish. It’s beyond foolish.”

In Texas, after an onslaught of challenges, from the brutal winter storm to widespread energy failures to water outages throughout the state, some noticed one other issue at work within the reopening debate: politics.

“It’s pretty obvious to people who pay attention that this is just a move to change the subject from the infrastructure failures that we just saw,” mentioned Kaitlyn Urenda-Culpepper, an El Pasoan now residing in Dallas, echoing a generally heard sentiment throughout the state.

But Ms. Urenda-Culpepper, whose mom died from Covid-19 in July, acknowledged that the governor had the facility to make such selections, as irritating and enraging as they is likely to be. And on condition that, there was no selection however to hope for the very best.

“I don’t want him to be wrong,” she mentioned. “But obviously for the greater good of the people, I’m like, ‘Man, you better be right and not cost us tens of thousands more people.’”

Maria Jimenez Moya reported from Houston, Campbell Robertson from Pittsburgh, Erin Coulehan from El Paso and James Dobbins from San Antonio. David Montgomery contributed reporting from Austin, Texas, Marina Trahan Martinez from Dallas and Ellen Ann Fentress from Jackson, Miss.

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