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Pres. Biden calls Texas' decision to end face mask mandate “Neanderthal thinking”

President criticizes Gov. Abbott's moves as a "big mistake"

BEAUMONT, Texas — President Biden has made his first public remarks about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to re-open the state and end the state's mask mandate.

In remarks made from the Oval Office, Biden called the decision to end the mask mandate "a big mistake" and criticizes what he views as "Neanderthal thinking" after the CDC has adamantly warned against removing these preventative measures. 

"I hope everyone realizes by now that these masks make a difference," Biden said while wearing a cloth face mask at the White House. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way we are able to get vaccines in people's arms. The last thing, the last thing we need, is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything is fine, take off your mask and forget it. It still matters."

Abbott announced Tuesday that he was allowing businesses across the state to reopen at 100% occupancy. He also said that the mask mandate put in place nearly a year ago would expire next Wednesday. 

Abbott said local businesses could still make their own decision about requiring masks, and the governor said local county judges could step in with occupancy control if COVID numbers got out of hand. 

RELATED: 'Opening Texas 100%': Gov. Abbott rescinds statewide face mask order, business restrictions

Not long after Abbott made rescinded those restrictions, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves announced he would end mask mandates in his state and full reopen nearly all businesses. 

RELATED: Texas to join 15 US states without statewide mask mandates

Biden noted that there will be enough COVID-19 vaccines available for all Americans to receive a shot by May, but says that thousands more will die until those vaccinations happen. 

"It's critical, critical, critical that they follow the science. Washing your hands, wear a mask and stay socially distanced," Biden added.

During a visit to Houston to tour winter storm damage on February 26, Biden reiterated his stance that face masks should be required. After his election in November, Biden pushed for all Americans to wear face masks for his first 100 days in office.