'Big mistake': Biden slams GOP governors for ending mask mandates

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'The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking,' the president said.

President Joe Biden called out Republican governors in Texas and Mississippi for "Neanderthal thinking" in deciding to relax their mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions.

The governors of both states announced Tuesday they would lift their states' mask mandates and other restrictions on businesses and gatherings aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

Biden called it a "big mistake" while speaking in the Oval Office on Wednesday during a meeting with lawmakers, who each wore a mask. He said, "I hope everyone has realized by now, these masks make a difference."

Biden added: "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease" and said "the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine, take off your mask, forget it."

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is warning against virus fatigue and encouraging Americans to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing despite states easing restrictions.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the nation is "at a critical nexus in the pandemic," and the next two months are "pivotal" in determining the remaining course of the pandemic.

While vaccinations are set to rapidly ramp up, Walensky warned deaths and new infections have plateaued at a "troubling" level after falling off their January highs.

She said, "Fatigue is winning and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored."

Walensky says the CDC has been clear in opposing states' moves to lift restrictions and encouraged Americans to follow federal guidelines.