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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

Oct 24, 2021 - Axios on HBO

Rand Paul claims vindication in battle with Anthony Fauci

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Mike Allen in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that President Biden should fire Anthony Fauci "just for lack of judgment, if nothing else."

The big picture: Paul claims vindication in his dispute with Fauci, played out at heated Senate hearings, over the level of risk of U.S.-funded research in Wuhan, where COVID began.

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

U.S. freezes aid to Sudan over military coup

Protesting the coup in Khartoum. Photo: AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has frozen a $700 million aid package to Sudan after a military coup on Monday threatened to end the country's transition toward democracy.

Driving the news: At least three protesters have been killed and dozens wounded in the chaotic scenes that followed the announcements from Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan's ruling council, dissolving the government and declaring a state of emergency.

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