US President Joe Biden on Wednesday slammed the states of Texas and Mississippi for decisions to lift mask mandates and open businesses, calling it a “big mistake.”

“It’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized by now these masks make a difference,” Biden said during a bipartisan meeting at the White House. “The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

He said it is critical for states to follow the science.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities and small business owners have struggled to pay their bills.

“This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100%.” Abbott said in an address to the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

At her daily news briefing, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic. We need to remain vigilant.”

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