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L.A. County sheriff won't enforce mask mandate because it is "not backed by science"

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Friday that his department would not enforce an L.A. County mask order, saying it is "not backed by science."

Driving the news: Villanueva's statement comes one day after L.A. county officials announced a new mask mandate for residents in indoor public locations regardless of vaccine status, effective Saturday at 11:59 p.m.


What he's saying: "Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines," Villanueva said in a statement.

  • "The underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance," he added.

The big picture: The mask order comes amid rising coronavirus cases in the county.

  • For the seven-day period that ended Wednesday, the county’s average was 1,077 new cases a day. On Thursday, the county reported 1,537 additional cases, per the Los Angeles Times.
  • Individuals who are unvaccinated make up the vast majority of new hospitalizations, cases and deaths.
  • Between Dec. 7 and June 7, the unvaccinated accounted for 99.6% of the county’s coronavirus cases, 98.7% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 99.8% of deaths, per the Times.
  • Among the Los Angeles county population, 69% of those eligible have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 61% are fully vaccinated, per county data.
  • The California Department of Public Health and the CDC maintain that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors, per the Times.

Zoom out: Officials in Las Vegas, Nevada, are also advising everyone — vaccinated or not — to wear face coverings in crowds and indoor places amid rising coronavirus cases, AP reports.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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