"The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking in the meantime: 'Everything's fine, take off your masks,'" Biden told reporters at the White House. "It still matters."
"It's critical, critical, critical that they follow the science," he continued. "I know you all know that. I wish to check if some of our elected officials knew it."
Biden was asked at the end of his Oval Office appearance before reporters about Texas and Mississippi both lifting face mask mandates a day earlier and removing restrictions on indoor capacities at businesses.
"I think it's a big mistake," Biden said. "Look, I hope everyone's realized by now, these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to change the nature of this disease because of the way we're able to get vaccines in people's arms."
Biden stated there will be enough shots in America by the end of May to treat anyone who wants to be immunized. The timetable was moved up from the end of summer to July, and now to the end of spring, Biden said. There are now three vaccines authorized for emergency use in America, produced by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
"This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the daily press briefing.
"There's still more work to be done. We need to remain vigilant."
The problem of mask-wearing has been a contentious one for months, with some critics calling the use unnecessary. Especially as some medical experts have pressed for wearing more than one mask at a time for added coronavirus protection, some opposed to the idea.
Masks have been recommended by many medical experts, along with social distancing and hand washing, as ways to control the spread of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. At issue now is whether the arrival and dissemination of effective vaccines mark that the time is right for a relaxation of some of these restrictions.
Texas is not the first state to abolish a statewide mandate for people to wear masks in public. Fifteen other states either lifted their mask requirement or never adopted one in the beginning. According to AARP, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee also do not have a statewide mandate for wearing a mask.