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Analysis: What's behind Texas governor's 'Neanderthal thinking'?

March 4, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 23.5%. 2 min read.

"Neanderthal thinking" was President Joe Biden's unusually direct description of the decision by governors in Texas and Mississippi to prematurely end mask restrictions.

(CNN)"Neanderthal thinking" was President Joe Biden's unusually direct description of the decision by governors in Texas and Mississippi to prematurely end mask restrictions.

What Abbott really meant was: An Abbott spokeswoman clarified Wednesday that the governor was not saying, by ending the mask mandate, that Texans should not wear masks.

That Abbott, still reeling from the power and water shortages that called his leadership into question last week, reportedly didn't consult his state's chief medical officer before ending the mask mandate makes it hard to see the decision as anything but political.

"There are exceptions, however, and some business advocates are concerned that the end of these states' mask mandates will create new challenges for companies and their workers. "

While it's easy to roll your eye at Abbott ending all restrictions and allowing businesses to open at will, it's also completely legitimate to wonder where the right place is.

In my neighborhood in Virginia, parents are looking at the possibility of sending their kids to in-person public school for the first time in a year after the governor issued an order requiring schools to open by March 15.

I was flabbergasted to see Wednesday that Texas announced it would prioritize teachers only after the governor announced the end of restrictions on businesses.

WHAT MATTERS: What's going to be the practical effect of this order by Gov. Abbott on Texans and Texas businesses?

LAVANDERA: The governor's executive order ends all the restrictions and operating limits placed on businesses during the coronavirus pandemic starting on Wednesday, March 10.

Gov. Greg Abbott is essentially shifting the burden and responsibility of enforcing medical guidelines over social distancing and mask wearing.

Businesses will now be allowed to operate at full capacity but can still require employees and customers to follow public health safety measures, like mask wearing.

When Abbott started reopening the state last spring and issued the mask mandate last summer, there was great confusion over enforcement and many businesses were put in a tough place.

LAVANDERA: The pandemic has exposed the growing divide between the Democratic leadership in the most populated cities in Texas (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin) and the conservative Republican officials fully in control of state government.

But the governor's decision has left many local leaders, especially in the state's biggest cities, dumbfounded by his push to ease pandemic restrictions so soon.

Instead of calling a news conference in Austin and taking questions from reporters on the intricacies of how this reopening would roll out, Gov. Abbott announced the reopening of the Texas economy at a restaurant in the West Texas town of Lubbock surrounded by a political friendly crowd.

These are the conservative voices that have opposed the governor's pandemic restrictions on businesses and lampooned mask wearing.

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