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West Virginia has no plans to lift its mask mandate, Gov. Jim Justice (R) told CNN on Thursday, adding, "I don't know what the rush is, and if we don't watch out, we can make some mistakes."

Why it matters: Texas and Mississippi, both led by Republican governors, are ending coronavirus restrictions as vaccinations ramp up across the country. Ditching the public safety measures could hasten another surge in coronavirus cases.

  • Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said Thursday that the state's mask mandate would last until April 9 and would not be extended further.

What he's saying: "As we continue to vaccinate more and more and more, we'll get rid of the masks. But I don't know really what the big rush to get rid of the masks is. Because these masks have saved a lot, a lot of lives," Justice said.

  • The governor said he had not had any discussions with the state's medical officials on lifting the mask mandate.

Flashback: President Biden characterized states choosing to relax coronavirus restrictions as "Neanderthal thinking" on Wednesday.

Go deeper

Mar 4, 2021 - Health

The danger of a fourth wave

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.

Figuring out Florida's "extremely vulnerable" vaccine qualification

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Qualifying for a COVID vaccine as "extremely vulnerable" under Florida's new guidelines is entirely up to doctors' discretion, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference Wednesday.

Why it matters: Being "extremely vulnerable" is the only way Floridians under 65 who are not frontline workers or firefighters, police and teachers 50 and up can get the vaccine so far.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Mar 4, 2021 - Technology

"Fludemic" model accurately maps where COVID hotspots will crop up a week out

Image: Fludemic

By combining a range of private and public information, a small startup says it is able to predict COVID-19 hot spots at the neighborhood level a week out — with 92% accuracy.

Driving the news: The startup, Data Driven Health, made a version of its flu and COVID-prediction model freely available Wednesday, offering data down to the neighborhood level.

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