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Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The parent company of Southern supermarket chain Winn-Dixie will not require face masks to be worn in its roughly 500 stores, saying it doesn't want to "put [its] associates in a position to navigate interpersonal conflict," reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The announcement underscores the political partisanship that has surrounded face mask requirements, despite scientific evidence suggesting they have been effective in stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Winn-Dixie's stores are located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi — all states President Trump won in 2016.
  • 28 states and the District of Columbia have issued some form of mask mandate.

What they're saying: "Our associates have seen that mask mandates are a highly charged issue with our customers," Joe Caldwell, director of corporate communications and government affairs for Southeastern Grocers, told the Post via email.

  • "We do not want to put our associates in a position to navigate interpersonal conflict or prohibit customers from shopping in our stores."

Go deeper

Oct 27, 2020 - World

Putin mandates face masks as Russia combats second COVID-19 wave

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday instituted a nationwide mask mandate, as the nation tries to combat a second spike of COVID-19 cases, according to an order published by Rospotrebnadzor, the federal health watchdog agency.

By the numbers: Russia currently has the fourth-most coronavirus cases in the world, with 1,537,142, according to Johns Hopkins data, behind the U.S., India and Brazil. Russia has reported 26,092 deaths to date.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated Oct 27, 2020 - Economy & Business

Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, with cold weather arriving before even the best-case scenario for a widely distributed vaccine. Now we're also beginning to see an increase in coronavirus-related startup funding, focused on both testing and pharma.

Driving the news: Gauss, a Silicon Valley computer vision startup focused on health care, tells Axios that it's raised $10 million to accelerate development and commercialization of an at-home rapid antigen test for COVID-19.

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.