(USA Features) Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on Thursday barring the imposition of mask and vaccine mandates by the federal government as other Republican governors lashed out at the Biden administration over its new pandemic guidelines.
“Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19,” Abbott, 63, a Republican, noted in the order.
“The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates,” the order adds.
At the same time, GOP governors including Ron DeSantis in Florida railed at the administration’s newest guidelines recommending re-masking of Americans in public as well as school-aged children as they prepare to head back to in-person classes in a few weeks.
Specifically, Republican governors and lawmakers were lashing out at the White House for recommending that even vaccinated Americans don masks again, especially in portions of the country where the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus is now spreading.
“Did you not get the CDC’s memo?” DeSantis said mockingly on Wednesday in an address to a nearly entirely unmasked audience of conservatives and lawmakers seated in an indoor hotel ballroom in Salt Lake City.
“I don’t see you guys complying,” he added.
And on Capitol Hill, dozens of GOP lawmakers defied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s order to don masks while in the House chamber, in hallways, and in their offices in response to a recommendation from the congressional physician.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance that even vaccinated Americans should wear masks in public settings, as well as kids returning to school, though the variant of COVID does not appear to impact younger children any more than the original strain.
Some of the mask resistance is being led by former President Donald Trump.
“We won’t go back. We won’t mask our children,” he said earlier this week. “Why do Democrats distrust the science?”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons called the new Biden administration guidance “disappointing and concerning” and said it is “inconsistent with the overwhelming evidence surrounding the efficacy of the vaccines and their proven results.”
Like other Republicans, Parsons warned that the new mask guidance would conflict with the administration’s continued push to convince more Americans to become vaccinated because it serves as a disincentive.
Just last week, Republican governors noted that vaccination rates in their states, some of which had been low, were on the rise as they pushed anew to have their citizens get the jab. Now, they fear the new mask guideline will simply undermine their efforts.
“This self-inflicted setback encourages skepticism and vaccine hesitancy at a time when the goal is to prevent serious illnesses and deaths from COVID-19 through vaccination,” Parsons tweeted. “This decision only promotes fear & further division among our citizens.”
Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona added that the announcement “will unfortunately only diminish confidence in the vaccine and create more challenges for public health officials, people who have worked tirelessly to increase vaccination rates.”
“It’s not healthy for these students to be sitting there all day, 6-year-old kids in kindergarten covered in masks,” DeSantis insisted.
In Washington this week after the new guidance was announced, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, took to the House floor to blast Democratic leaders in the chamber as well as the Biden administration.
“We have a crisis at our border, and we’re playing footsie with mask mandates in the people’s House,” he railed.
“The American people are fed up. They want to go back to life. They want to go back to business. They want to go back to school without their children being forced to wear masks,” he added.