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Pediatric Hospitalizations Continue To Rise Across Texas As COVID-19 Spreads Among Students

An HISD classroom on August 23, 2021.
Lucio Vasquez
Houston Public Media
An HISD classroom on August 23, 2021.

As of Tuesday, 284 pediatric COVID-19 patients were admitted in hospitals across the state.

Updated on Sept. 3, 10:30 a.m.

The number of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas continues to surpass previous peaks compared to any point during the pandemic, according to state data.

As of Tuesday, 284 pediatric COVID-19 patients were admitted in hospitals across the state, 86 of which were in the Houston area, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Dr. Luis Ostrosky, an infectious disease expert at UT Health and Memorial Hermann, said the virus was no longer solely affecting children with compromised immune systems.

“We are now seeing healthy kids, healthy teenagers with severe COVID,” he said. “We’re seeing babies and that is very disturbing.”

Statewide pediatric cases have increased by about 20% compared to mid August, just before school began in Houston ISD — the state’s largest school district.

According to HISD’s COVID-19 dashboard, there was 851 active cases throughout the district on Thursday, 724 of which were among students. About 53% of HISD’s student infections were among elementary students, with 414 testing positive as of Thursday.

Across the state of Texas, public school districts on Aug. 29 reported 18,111 positive COVID-19 cases among students, according to the latest state data. That number has jumped week to week, with 14,033 on Aug. 22 and 4,976 on Aug. 15 — a 264% increase over the course of two weeks.

As of Friday, there was 51,904 positive COVID-19 cases among Texas public school students.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive order GA-38 in July, banning local municipalities and school districts from implementing mask mandates, prompting local officials to push back with legal challenges against the state.

At least 43 school districts across the state are currently defying that order, including HISD, according to Attorney General Ken Paxton's Office.

Additional reporting by Matt Harab.

This story was produced by Houston Public Media.

Houston Public Media
Lucio is a reporter and photojournalist currently studying media production at the University of Houston. He has previously worked as a news photographer for Houston Public Media, the NPR affiliate in Houston, Texas. His photography has appeared throughout several Texas-based NPR affiliates.