DALLAS — The total number of positive COVID-19 cases among students in Texas so far this school year is quickly approaching the total of last school year, according to the latest data released by the state Friday.
Texas health officials reported 23,779 public school students tested positive during the week ending on Sept. 12. In comparison, there were around 90,700 statewide cases during that same time period, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.
The state also updated the total for the week ending on Sept. 5 to 40,216 positive student cases. A total of 13,222 was originally reported during last week's data release.
According to the latest data, there have been 125,390 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 so far this school year. In comparison, a total of 148,197 positive cases was reported all of last school year.
Data from the state shows 5,340,108 students are enrolled in Texas public schools as of Jan. 29, 2021.
There have also been 23,057 positive cases reported among staff members so far this school year, according to state data. There were 73,741 staff cases last school year.
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among children are continuing to increase throughout the state and are affecting at least one children's hospital in North Texas.
Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth announced Thursday that it is halting elective, non-emergency surgeries due to staffing and bed shortages.
"There are only so many beds available, and we must provide room for critically ill children who must be hospitalized," Cook Children's said in a statement.
The children's hospital also said it's had to divert patients to border states due to the lack of space and convert specialty medical units into COVID-19 units.
“It’s unfortunate that we are physically unable to care for all of the children who need us right now," Cheryl Petersen, chief nursing officer, said. "If we have to divert a patient away from Cook Children’s, we ensure we find them an appropriate facility, though that may be several ho
urs away from home or even in another state."
Amid the COVID-19 surge, ongoing legal battles regarding mask mandates in schools also continue.
Last week, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced he's suing several school districts, including Richardson ISD, for defying Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order that bans mask mandates in public schools.
Disability Rights Texas, an advocacy group, was denied a temporary restraining order against Abbott's executive order earlier this week after it filed a lawsuit in late August.
The group claims the governor's order "puts students with disabilities at risk." A broader trial in this case is set for Oct. 6.