President Joe Biden says Texas made "big mistake" by lifting mask mandate, suggests "Neanderthal thinking"

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President Joe Biden speaks with House Democratic leaders and chairs of House committees working on COVID-19 aid legislation during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 5, 2021. Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that Texas made a "big mistake" by removing its statewide mask mandate and suggested the decision reflected "Neanderthal thinking."

The comments by the Democratic president came a day after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was not only ending the mask requirement but also allowing businesses to reopen at full capacity. A small fraction of Texans have been fully vaccinated, and while coronavirus numbers have been generally declining in the state, they remain substantial.

"Texas — I think it's a big mistake," Biden said at the White House. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because the way in which are are able to get vaccines in people's arms. The last thing — the last thing — we need is Neanderthal thinking in the meantime."