President Biden on Wednesday described it as "a big mistake" after the governors of Texas and Mississippi announced that coronavirus-related restrictions, including mask mandates, would soon be lifted.
"I think it's a big mistake. Look, I hope everybody's realized by now these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because the way in which we're able to get vaccines in people's arms," he said, noting that there will be enough vaccines by the end of May for all American adults to receive a shot.
"And 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," the president said.
Biden's comments come after announcements on Tuesday from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, both of whom are Republican, that coronavirus-related restrictions would soon be lifted.
"Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules," Reeves tweeted. "Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!"
The Associated Press reported that most of the state's counties had been under a mask mandate. An executive order slated to go into effect Wednesday evening still lays out some restrictions such as mask requirements related to schools and capacity limits in some instances such as at indoor arenas.
Governor Abbott of Texas announced on Tuesday that the Lone Star State will soon be released from a mask mandate and all businesses will be able to open at 100% capacity. Abbott's order will take effect on March 10.