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Two days into school year, 440 students in a Florida district are quarantined

Nearly 500 students in Palm Beach County, Fla. have been quarantined because of COVID-19 just two days into the school year, the district's superintendent said Thursday.

Why it matters: Superintendent Michael Burke's announcement comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has maintained his executive order banning school districts in the state from requiring the use of masks amidst criticism and lawsuits.

  • Burke said that 51 cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in the district. Of the cases, 37 are students and 14 are employees.
  • While Palm Beach County public schools have now made masks mandatory for all students and staff, 6,394 of the roughly 167,000 students in the district have opted out of wearing them.

What they're saying: "The governor's got to take responsibility for establishing the ground rules we're operating under," Burke said. "And this ability for families to opt out is leading to more cases, which is ultimately going to send more kids home and deprive them of that traditional classroom experience."

  • "We can't completely mitigate the risk, but I think if we could mandate the face coverings, have our kids in the classroom, that would be the best shot," he added.

The big picture: Florida has reported over 2.7 million COVID-19 cases so far and currently has an average seven-day positivity rate of between 20 and 25 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Many children returning for in-person schooling this fall are not vaccinated, and children under 12 are not eligible for a vaccine.
  • The latest numbers from the American Academy of Pediatrics show nearly 94,000 cases of COVID among children.
  • DeSantis currently faces legal challenges over his order, with some districts mandating masks despite the ban.

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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