Governor Greg Abbott has faulted undocumented immigrants for the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the Texas communities, while lambasting President Joe Biden for his recent "Neanderthal" comment regarding the Republican’s decision to roll back mask-wearing guidelines for his state.
Going on Twitter, the governor deplored the “reckless” actions of the Biden Administration by releasing “hundreds of illegal immigrants who have Covid”.
The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 3, 2021
The Biden Admin. must IMMEDIATELY end this callous act that exposes Texans & Americans to COVID.
Prior to this, the governor blamed Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration for "importing Covid into our country" in a CNBC interview.
"The Biden administration has been releasing immigrants in south Texas that have been exposing Texans to COVID," says @GovAbbott. "Before now there actually hasn't been any enforcement of the mask requirement--we urge all Texans to wear a mask when they are out." pic.twitter.com/NJN0bEQCCf— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) March 4, 2021
While the Republican governor stopped short of offering any specific details to corroborate his stance, his remarks came in the wake of a Telemundo report that revealed instances of migrants being released by Border Patrol in Brownsville, Texas, having subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus.
Since testing had been launched in the city on 25 January, 108 released migrants had tested positive for COVID-19, amounting to 6.3 percent of those who'd taken such tests, according to the report.
A Brownsville official was cited by Fox News as deploring the fact that they lacked the authority to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and prevent people from travelling to other cities or states after they tested positive.
The Texas Governor also offered a scathing response on Thursday to criticism from President Joe Biden regarding his decisions to lift COVID-19 restrictions and mask mandates earlier in the week.
Abbott had announced on Tuesday a rollback of most pandemic restrictions statewide, including the mask mandate. Texas businesses will be allowed to open “100%,” effective on 10 March, he said.
President Biden, however, voiced concern over the rollback as new coronavirus variants were spreading through the country.
"We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we're able to get vaccines in people's arms. The last thing – the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters," said Biden.
Abbott slammed the comment as “not the type of word that a president should be using”, as he appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
Abbott defended his move to lift the mask mandate, insisting Texas residents already know "the safe standard, among other things, is to wear a mask".
Abbot also struck an optimistic note as he claimed that data showed coronavirus infections were at "four-month lows".
Our daily update is published. States reported 1.6 million tests, 65k cases, 44,172 currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and 1,743 deaths. pic.twitter.com/5RuxA8SpOZ— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) March 5, 2021
Texas recorded 7,822 new infections on 3 March, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project, which was a 1.9 percent increase over the last seven days.
After jab candidates from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna were quickly approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration in December, US President Joe Biden had vowed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing the country’s sluggish and chaotic vaccine rollout to speed. In January, he optimistically declared:
“You have my word… we will manage the hell out of this operation.”
However, amid increased frustration with the slow distribution process two months later and lack of a clear federal blueprint for the process, only 10 percent of Americans have received at least one shot. Fewer than 3 percent of them have received both of the necessary doses, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to Bloomberg, about 2.4 mln vaccine doses were administered in the US by 28 February, as states carry out a choppy inoculation campaign plagued with supply and distribution challenges.
“We have the ability to stop a potential fourth surge of cases in this country.” — CDC Director Rochelle Walensky pic.twitter.com/uVWtMBgLJn— The Recount (@therecount) March 1, 2021
Meanwhile, Rochelle Walensky, the director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned on 1 March that there were indications a “fourth surge” of the disease could occur before a majority of the US is vaccinated.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has recorded more than 28.5 mln Covid-19 cases and nearly 513,000 deaths. While daily case numbers fell after a peak in January, they have since started to increase again.