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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a June briefing in Weslaco, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any Texas government entity and urged state lawmakers to pass it into law during the ongoing special session.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as Texas grapples with a massive surge in coronavirus cases and as the state reported the most COVID hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

Driving the news: The Republican governor took the action in response to the FDA granting full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for those ages 16 and older.

  • He previously banned vaccine passports implemented after emergency use authorizations.
  • "Vaccine requirements and exemptions have historically been determined by the legislature, and their involvement is particularly important to avoid a patchwork of vaccine mandates across Texas," Abbott said in a statement.

By the numbers: Texas saw 14,255 COVID hospitalizations on Wednesday, surpassing the Jan. 11 record of 14,218, AP notes.

The big picture: Abbott last week asked hospitals to delay nonessential medical procedures to free up hospital beds for COVID patients.

Of note: A CDC study out this week found unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID.

Go deeper

Minnesota National Guard to assist with hospital staffing shortages

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on April 19. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced Friday that he'll put the Minnesota National Guard on alert to help ease staffing shortages at hospitals and care facilities due to the rise in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated residents in the state.

Driving the news: Over 400 Minnesota patients are currently waiting for beds to open up at other care centers as hospitals across the state have reported that they're at or close to reaching capacity, AP reports.

Updated 20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Booster shots overtake first doses in the U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate entire Brazilian city as part of study — FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adultsU.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers on Nov. 8.
  2. Health: New cases down, but the West is at risk — Low vaccination rates exacerbate America's caregiving crisis — COVID is here to stay. So what does "victory" look like? — FDA will review Merck COVID-19 pill.
  3. Politics: NHL announces all but four players have been vaccinated — WHO names new advisory group on COVID origins — Biden admin warns Moderna to "step up" global vaccine supply.
  4. Education: LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations amid staffing shortage — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive — Arizona can't use aid for anti-mask education grants, Treasury says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Oct 15, 2021 - Health

Appeals court declines to block Maine vaccine mandate

A health worker prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination. Photo: Camilo Freedman/APhotografia/Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday denied an emergency request to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from going into effect in Maine, the Associated Press reports.

Driving the news: The mandate, which Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced in August, requires health care workers in Maine to get vaccinated by Oct. 29 or face losing their jobs.

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