President Biden on Wednesday criticized Texas and Mississippi lifting their COVID mask mandates and rolling back restrictions as “Neanderthal thinking.”

“I think a big mistake,” Biden said, citing scientific evidence that masks can reduce infections. “It’s critical, critical, critical that they follow the science.

“Masks make a difference,” he added.

The president spoke out after the Republican governors of the two states lifted all rules requiring people to wear masks in public, with Mississippi rolling back the restrictions hours after Texas did the same Tuesday.

Biden said governors and other leaders must not prematurely relax COVID mandates before the danger from the pandemic has passed.

“The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking,” he said.

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Pressure has been rising in some states to relax or scrap restrictions entirely, as infection rates, serious illnesses and deaths have all dropped dramatically since the holidays. Increased vaccinations are also driving down the numbers.

But public health experts say the infection rate has leveled off in recent days, leading to fears of a new spring surge if restrictions are eased and more contagious variants of the virus spread.


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