Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that he is lifting Texas' COVID-19 regulations, including allowing businesses to operate at 100 percent capacity and rescinding the statewide mask mandate. The new law will take effect March 10. Officials called the explosion, which was still under investigation, "a cowardly act of destruction".
"I think it's a big mistake", Biden told a small group of reporters Wednesday in the Oval Office when asked about Republican governors in Texas and MS casting off restrictions and allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity.
But in the White House, he told reporters that this is no time to relax. More than 2.3 million Texans have tested positive for the coronavirus, with more than 43,000 dying.
The Texas and MS decisions were "a big mistake", he said.
"The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that, in the meantime, everything is fine".
"We have been very clear that now is not the time to release full restrictions", said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Walensky said the US now finds itself at a "critical nexus" in the pandemic, with case rates still elevated and the country on the verge of vaccinating a large percentage of its population.
While infection rates across the country have been leveling off, COVID-19 variants such as the highly transmissible so-called British strain are poised to surge, threatening to destroy what progress has been made, Walensky said.
COVID-19 infections have plummeted in recent weeks across much of the world, including the United States.
The state's Republican leadership favoured former President Donald Trump's relatively relaxed approach to imposing restrictions.
"Sao Paulo and Brazil are on the brink of a health system collapse". After all, the state's pandemic response has been political from the start.
"This is your fault".
The roll-out of vaccinations against Covid-19 has boosted confidence in a return to pre-pandemic life in the US.
The government is in talks to receive assistance from other European countries including Germany, Poland and Switzerland, which have all offered hospital beds.
Employees at General Motors, Toyota Motor, Target Corp, and Macy's Inc in Texas will keep face masks on at work, the companies said on Tuesday, even as the USA state lifted most of its coronavirus curbs allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity as of next week.
"Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities".
"We will continue to enforce our COVID safety practices we've had in place since we returned to work last spring", GM spokesperson Patrick Morrissey said in an email.
But not all retailers are ready to do away with federal guidelines: In a statement, Target confirmed that it would still require store workers and customers to wear masks in all of its locations across the country, including the state of Texas.
But the Democratic mayor of Houston described the decision as "disheartening".
MI is to ease capacity limits on restaurants, and on public and residential gatherings.
Some Democratic-led cities, such as San Francisco, are also taking steps towards a post-pandemic life by allowing indoor eating and museums to open with limited capacity.