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Florida Governor DeSantis holds a news conference at the Florida Department of Health office in Viera, Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The First District Court of Appeal on Friday granted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) approval to uphold an order banning mask mandates in schools, per court documents filed Friday.

Why it matters: The move reverses a decision from earlier this week that paused the state's ability to enforce a ban on strict mask mandates in schools. The state will be able to resume punishing school districts that enforce mandates, which up until this point has included withholding funds from schools.

Driving the news: "When a public officer or agency seeks appellate review, which is the case here, there is a presumption under the rule in favor of a stay, and the stay should be vacated only for the most compelling of reasons," per the order from the 1st District Court of Appeal.

  • "Given the presumption against vacating the automatic stay, the stay should have been left in place pending appellate review."

The big picture: Second Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled on Wednesday that Florida had to stop enforcing mask bans, refusing to issue a stay as the state appealed his decision.

  • "We are not in normal times. We are in a pandemic. We have children that can’t be protected by vaccination," Cooper said in court, according to NBC Miami. "Children are at risk and they provide at least some protection by masking."
  • Thirteen of Florida’s 67 school districts have strict mask requirements, defying DeSantis' order, per the Miami Herald.
  • President Biden on Thursday announced the creation of a fund designed to cover funds that are withheld from the state because of their mask rules.
“We have the funding, the resources and the intention of having the back of school leaders in school district superintendents and others who do the right thing by students, and that includes putting in place mask requirements and other requirements that will keep them safe."
— White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.

What they're saying: DeSantis applauded the court's decision, saying it had "restored the right of parents to make the best decisions for their children."

Go deeper: Biden calls GOP governors "cavalier" for resisting vaccine requirements.

Go deeper

Dec 17, 2021 - Health

Study: J&J vaccine provides little or no protection against Omicron

A patient receives the Sputnik Light vaccine during a home vaccination visit in Kazan, Russia. Photo: Yegor Aleyev\TASS via Getty Images

COVID-19 vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson and China's Sinopharm, as well as the Russian-made Sputnik V, were found to provide little or no protection against the newly emerging Omicron variant, according to a study out this week.

Driving the news: The study, which was published as a preprint and isn't yet peer-reviewed, found that just three out of 13 people who were fully vaccinated with China's Sinopharm vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies against Omicron.

Updated Dec 18, 2021 - Health

Report: CDC overcounts millions of vaccinations

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. government has overcounted the number of Americans who are at least partly vaccinated against the coronavirus, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Millions more people than initially thought are unprotected as coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths are rising across the country.

Updated Dec 22, 2021 - Health

Europe tightens COVID restrictions as Omicron spreads

Participants in a demonstration against the coronavirus measures walk past a counter-demonstration in Lower Saxony, Osnabrück, Germany, on Dec. 18. Photo: Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Tighter COVID-19 restrictions are returning in countries across Europe as case counts rise from the quickly spreading and highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Threat level: Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization's Europe chief, said Tuesday that governments should prepare for "a significant surge" in COVID-19 cases, as Germany and Portugal became the latest countries to announce new measures.