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Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Florida's second-largest school district on Monday said it will no longer impose a mask mandate after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) threatened to withhold funding from districts that require face coverings.

Driving the news: Broward County Public Schools announced last week that it would require mask use after the CDC issued new guidance recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools this incoming school year, regardless of vaccination status.

  • DeSantis on Friday issued an executive order barring local school districts from requiring students to wear masks when they return to the classroom next month.
  • The order also said that "if the State Board of Education determines that a district school board is unwilling or unable to comply with the law, the State Board shall have the authority to, among other things, withhold the transfer of state funds, discretionary grant funds ... and declare the school district ineligible for competitive grants."
  • The order was in response to "several Florida school boards considering or implementing mask mandates in their schools after the Biden Administration issued unscientific and inconsistent recommendations that school-aged children wear masks," the governor's office said.

What they're saying: "Broward County Public Schools intends to comply with the governor's latest executive order," the district said in a statement Monday.

  • "Safety remains our highest priority. The district will advocate for all eligible students and staff to receive vaccines and strongly encourage masks to be worn by everyone in schools," it continued.
  • "The district will also work to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including frequent cleaning and disinfecting of our schools, physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick."

The big picture: Florida is experiencing a surge of new COVID cases, largely driven by the Delta variant.

  • More than 110,400 cases were reported over the seven-day period ending July 29, up from just over 73,000 the week before.

Go deeper

12 hours ago - Health

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.

19 hours ago - Health

America has fallen behind on vaccinations

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The U.S. has fallen from the top of the world's list of most-vaccinated countries, largely due to the substantial percentage of Americans who don't want the vaccine.

What we're watching: Vaccine mandates are becoming much more common in the U.S., and children under 12 will likely become eligible for vaccines within the next few months — both of which should help boost the vaccination rate here.

20 hours ago - Health

Montana VA medical center to treat non-veterans amid COVID surge

Billings Clinic in Billings, Montana, on Nov. 11, 2020. Photo: Lynn Donaldson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A veterans medical facility in Montana is planning to accept non-eligible patients as a COVID-19 surge overwhelms nearby hospitals in the state, CNN reports.

Why it matters: The move underscores the dire health situation in Montana due to the latest COVID-19 case surge, where some hospitals in the state have started to consider rationing care, according to the Montana Free Press.