"This is a tragedy. People are dying and will die who don't have to die," Biden said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have banned mask mandates and, in Florida, prohibited private businesses from requiring customers and employees to get vaccinated.
"I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents and it's clear to me and to most of medical experts that the decisions being made like not allowing mask mandates in school are bad health policy, bad health policy," Biden said.
Biden said he's asked the Pentagon to decide whether to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of mandatory vaccines the military administers. And he touted recent gains in vaccination rates in southern states where people have been notably reluctant to get the shots.
"And we're seeing real results. In the past two weeks, we've seen a 55% increase in the average number of new people getting vaccinated every day," Biden said. "In the last seven days alone, nearly three million Americans have gotten their first shot. That's the highest seven-day total in a month."
Biden noted that in Louisiana, which has been especially hard hit in this new surge of the pandemic, the number getting vaccinated has tripled in the past few days with similar stories in Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.