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Children, some wearing face masks as a preventive measure, pick up free lunch at a school in Arlington, Virginia on March 16, 2020. Photo: Andrew Canallero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Students, teachers and other staff members will be required to wear masks in Virginia schools, following a public health order issued by the state health commissioner Thursday.

Why it matters: The order comes as the United States is seeing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and as hospitals are sounding the alarm about an increasing number of kids landing in the hospital after contracting the virus.

  • The order further clarifies the meaning of a law passed this year that requires schools in Virginia to follow CDC guidance to the “maximum extent practicable," per the Virginian Pilot.
  • “I don’t know that it can be any simpler than that — it’s the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and I expect our school districts to follow the law,” Gov. Ralph Northam said last week, per the Pilot.

Driving the news: Many of the children preparing to head back for in-person schooling this fall are without the protection of vaccination.

What they're saying: "[U]niversal and correct mask use is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy in schools as part of a multicomponent approach and has been shown to be associated with lower incidence of COVID-19 in schools," according to the order.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Moderna has become the world's vaccine boogeyman — Booster shots overtake first doses in the U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate entire Brazilian city as part of study.
  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?
  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 14, 2021 - Health

New COVID cases down, but the West is at risk

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

For the first time since early August, the U.S. is averaging fewer than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.

Why it matters: This U.S. has blown opportunities like this before, but the prospect of controlling the virus and being able to safely put pandemic life behind us is once again within reach.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.