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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Florida Legislature unexpectedly passed a bill banning transgender student-athletes last night.

Why it matters: The legislation — presumed dead last week — is the first "categorically discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bill" to pass in our state in 23 years, according to Equality Florida.

How it happened: After her original bill stalled, Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R-Okeechobee) slid the proposed ban into a Senate bill dealing with charter schools that passed largely along party lines, per Florida Politics.

  • If signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the "Fairness in Women's Sports Act" would keep transgender athletes from participating in women's and girls' sports starting July 1.

The big picture: Similar measures are being pushed by Republicans across the country — at least 50 bills in 28 states, as Axios' Jeff Tracy reported last month.

The other side: Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) tried to create pathways for transgender athletes to still compete despite what he termed an "11th-hour" amendment, but those attempts failed.

  • "The message that the bill sends is an ugly message of exclusion telling trans kids that who they are is not OK and that they need to change who they are and if they don't ... and something happens to them, it's their own fault," said Smith, per WUSF.
  • Equality Florida spokesman Michael Womack told Axios that lawmakers passed the bill "when they thought people weren't watching."
"This is not how the government is supposed to function; this is not how a bill is supposed to be passed."
Womack

The bottom line: With this move, our state once again finds itself at the center of the post-Trump culture war raging across America.

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Go deeper

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

Scoop: 50,000 migrants released; few report to ICE

A law enforcement officer walks to meet migrants crossed the Rio Grande River illegally last month. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have shown up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Israel launches maximum pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry's

A Ben & Jerry's store in Yavne, Israel. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty

The Israeli government has formed a special task force to pressure Ben & Jerry's ice cream and its parent company Unilever to reverse their decision to boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is concerned the move by Ben & Jerry's will encourage other international companies to take similar steps to differentiate between Israel and the West Bank settlements. A classified Foreign Ministry cable, seen by Axios, makes clear the government wants to send a message.

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