White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday defended President Joe Biden’s comment that governors who stopped their state’s mask mandates were thinking like Neanderthals.
Biden was talking about “the behavior of a Neanderthal, just to be very clear,” Psaki said during the White House press briefing.
Psaki said Biden’s comments were “a reflection of his frustration and exasperation, which I think many American people have that for almost a year now.”
“People across the country have sacrificed and many times they haven’t had information they need from the federal government,” Psaki said. “They haven’t had access to a greater understanding of what the public health guidelines should look like and those include many many people in Mississippi and Texas in Ohio, Florida in every state across the country.”
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that the state’s businesses can return to full operation next Wednesday and Texans won’t be required to wear masks in public, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Psaki and Biden criticized governors who ended their state’s mask mandates Wednesday, claiming they ignored science.
“The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters,” Biden said Wednesday.
Biden said he’s hopeful everyone knows masks are effective and said they’re on the verge of “fundamentally” altering the virus due to how they’re getting people vaccinated.
The president also said vaccines for every American adult would be available by May.
Psaki said Biden believes that with more than 500,000 American deaths from COVID-19, it’s essential for the country to listen to the public health experts’ advice, regardless of whether they’re in a state governed by Democrats or Republicans.
Psaki said Biden thinks “public health guidelines” need to be obeyed in order to mitigate the virus.