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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration warned Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) that it will take back the state's COVID-19 relief aid if it does not redesign programs that use the funding to discourage schools from mandating masks.

Driving the news: The state has two programs that are directed to schools and students. However, these programs take funding away from jurisdictions that have imposed mask requirements in schools, AP reports.

  • One of the programs provides $163 million in funding to schools that do not require face coverings. Another one offers up to $7,000 for parents if their kid's school mandates masks, AP notes.

State of play: The Treasury Department sent a letter to Ducey saying that he has 60 days to redesign those programs in a way that meets the aid's intent, which is to help curb the pandemic, per the Washington Post.

  • The department also said the administration will withhold future federal aid if no changes are implemented.

What they're saying: "By discouraging families and school districts from following this guidance, the conditions referenced above undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19," the Treasury Department's letter said, per AP.

  • "Accordingly, these school programs as currently structured are ineligible uses of" the federal aid.

The other side: "This letter is the latest example of a President that is completely out of touch with the American people," Ducey said on Twitter.

  • "When it comes to education, President Biden wants to continue focusing on masks. In Arizona, we’re going to focus on math and getting kids caught up after a year of learning loss," he added.
  • "We will respond to this letter, and we will continue to focus on things that matter to Arizonans. President Biden should do the same."

Don't forget: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking in all schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

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