Hundred of people took to the streets of Mississippi without a mask in sight on Friday night after the state lifted their COVID 19 restrictions on March 3.
Oxford, home of Ole Miss, saw people out in full force, eating at restaurants and shopping at stores like the coronavirus pandemic was a distant memory – rather than a virus that has killed more than half a million people and infects tens of thousands on a daily basis.
Joe Biden slammed Mississippi and Texas‘ decisions to reopen this month as ‘Neanderthal thinking’ on Wednesday, warning that big, maskless gatherings would lead to another surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.
Texas is the largest state to lift their mask mandate, despite the fact that over 42,000 in Texas have died of COVID-19.
The president has since been criticized for his comment by conservatives including Montana governor Greg Gianforte who complained Biden was ‘degrading’ himself with ‘name-calling.’
Meanwhile, revelers across Mississippi seemed unconcerned by the threat of another COVID-19 surge as they packed into busy bars and clubs for the first time in months.
People took to the streets of Mississippi without a mask in sight on Friday night, celebrating the lifting of the mask mandate of the state earlier in the week
Not a mask was in sight as the bars were packed to the gills, mostly with local college students from Ole Miss
On Friday night, Ole Miss students were able to party without restrictions after the state’s mask mandate was lifted
Ole Miss students were lined up around the block waiting for the opportunity to get into the local bars
Ironically, the timing of these restrictions easing in Mississippi could not be any worse.
In February, the state reported a 62.4 percent increase in cases within a seven-day period. In total, there have been at least 296,000 COVID-19 cases and 6,783 deaths in Mississippi since the onset of the pandemic.
On Friday, Mississippi reported 576 new cases and 22 new deaths.
Mississippi will maintain their 50 percent capacity restriction on indoor arenas and keep their current rules in place for K-12 schools.
The mask mandate was lifted in Mississippi on March 3, so March 5 was the first Friday night full of partying
Health officials will be watching to see what effect the easing of restrictions has on Mississippi coronavirus cases
People in Oxford, Mississippi went to lunch inside on Friday afternoon, with only servers typically wearing mask
Gov. Gianforte called out Joe Biden on Fox & Friends for his ‘Neanderthal thinking’ comment earlier in the week
Joe Biden said it was ‘Neanderthal thinking’ to have states drop their mask mandates, which Texas and Mississippi have done
Montana has also rescinded their mask mandate via a directive issued on February 12, while simultaneously encouraging residents to continue wearing masks and making responsible decisions.
Gov. Gianforte argued on Fox & Friends that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mandate doesn’t make sense, which is likely why he repealed it for his state.
Cases have been declining in Montana, with just 143 new cases reported on Friday. Hospitalizations are also low in the state, with just 63 people actively hospitalized headed into the weekend.
Biden had pleaded with states to keep restrictions until America could achieve heard immunity.
‘I hope everybody’s realized by now these masks make a difference,’ Biden said.
‘We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms.
‘The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it.’
Earlier this week, Gov. Gianforte tweeted in response to Biden, saying ‘If making data-driven decisions to reopen, loving freedom, and trying to get back to normal is what a Neanderthal would do, then well, I guess you can count me as one.’
During his interview with Doocy, Gov. Gianforte expressed his excitement about the direction of his state: ‘Montana is open for business, we’re getting back to normal.’
He admitted, however, that the state is ‘not out of the woods yet.’
In total, Montana has had 100,842 cases of COVID-19, with 1,381 people dying from the virus.
Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Montana so far, with 112,111 people fully immunized.
Gov. Gianforte is far from the first Republican politician to call out Biden for his ‘Neanderthal’ comment.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called Biden a ‘hypocrite’ in an interview with Fox News on Thursday.
Fox News reports Florida Sen. Marco Rubio suggested Biden ‘seek training on the unconscious bias.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden only made his comments out of ‘frustration and exasperation.’
Signs of progress in the fight against COVID-19 are evident, especially with a third vaccine being distributed across the nation.
The easing of pandemic restrictions and mask mandates could have a negative effect on the progress, though.
In the United States, there have been 28,890,034 cases and 522,761 COVID-19 deaths.
Cases are plummeting in the state, which saw just 143 new COVID-19 cases on Friday