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."

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Oct 21, 2020 - Health

CDC changes "close contact" guidance for COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Noam Galai, Jamie McCarthy, Josep LAGO / AFP, Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP, and Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto, all via Getty Images

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its definition of who is considered a “close contact” of an individual infected with the coronavirus in a report released Wednesday.

Why it matters: The update is likely to pose challenges for schools, workplaces and other group settings as the U.S. prepares for a third coronavirus wave. It also reinforces the importance of masks in the face of President Trump’s repeated attempts to belittle their efficacy.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.
Oct 21, 2020 - Health

New York reports most coronavirus cases since May

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at an Oct. 6 press briefing. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York reported over 2,000 positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday — the most infections seen in the state since May, per COVID Tracking Project (CTP) and health department data.

The big picture: Hospitalizations have been creeping back up in New York, alongside 38 other states. New York is currently seeing more than 900 hospitalizations a day, the CTP reports.