President Joe Biden pushed back on states like Texas and Mississippi lifting mask mandates ahead of the COVID-19 crisis ending, calling the move “Neanderthal thinking.”
Earlier this week, states including Texas, Michigan, Mississippi and Louisiana eased restrictions on masks as well as on indoor capacity in bars, restaurants and other businesses.
“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden told a reporter in the Oval Office Wednesday.
“Look, I hope everyone’s realized by now that these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease,” he said, citing the acceleration in vaccination efforts around the country.
Because the U.S. is expected to have enough vaccine supply for all adults by the end of May, Biden said the move to lift restrictions early is “the last thing we need.”
He called it “Neanderthal thinking” to believe that “in the meantime everything is fine, take off your mask.”
“Forget it. It still matters,” he insisted.
Despite the United States losing more than 500,000 people to the COVID-19 pandemic, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said on Tuesday that the “state mandates are no longer needed.”
In response to this and other state governors lifting their respective mask rules, many top health officials, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been reportedly “begging people repeatedly not to risk another deadly wave of contagion” amid vaccination efforts ramping up and progress being made at overcoming the virus, per The Associated Press.
Thus far, more than 51 million people have received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and the Biden administration is confident that it will accomplish the goal of getting 100 million people vaccinated in its first 100 days.