Children Hospitalized for COVID Hit Record High in the U.S. This Weekend, per HHS Data

More than 1,900 kids were hospitalized for the coronavirus on Saturday as the nation's schools begin to return to in-person classes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Students in Wendy Verrall second grade class make their hand into a smile to show they are happy, since their mouths are covered, during the first day of class at Tustin Ranch Elementary School in Tustin, CA on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.
Photo: Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty

The number of children hospitalized for COVID-19 reached an all-time high in the United States this weekend, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A record-high 1,902 pediatric coronavirus hospitalizations were reported on Saturday, Reuters reports. Kids now make up 2.4% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in the nation.

As of Sunday, Texas leads the country with 311 pediatric hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, per HHS data. Florida (204), California (140), Ohio (114), and Georgia (87) round out the top five.

There are currently no children in the states of Vermont, Rhode Island, Wyoming, or Alaska hospitalized with the coronavirus. Just one child is hospitalized in New Hampshire and Hawaii, respectively; two are hospitalized in both Maine and South Dakota; three are hospitalized in Kansas.

Children ages 11 and under remain ineligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving them vulnerable to the virus — including the widespread Delta variant — as they return to classrooms en masse.

Over 80 Nevada students were potentially exposed to COVID-19 after a parent sent their infected child to school this week, according to CNN, which cited Washoe County Health District officials.

The child attended the first day of classes at Marce Herz Middle School in Reno two days after they and their mother returned positive tests. The student subsequently transitioned to virtual learning.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors of K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, as the Delta variant continues to spread. The strain now makes up more than 90% of the reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

Though vaccination rates have taken off in recent weeks, the latest CDC data shows just 50.7% of the U.S. population (164.4 million) are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, while 59.7% (198.1 million) have received at least one dose.

Mask mandates at schools and other public spaces vary from state to state. States like Florida, Texas, and Arizona have prohibited these kinds of mandates ahead of the 2021-22 school year, but many districts have defied them despite threats of slashed funding.

Parents from six Florida counties — Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Orange, Alachua, Hillsborough, and Pinellas — are suing the state over its mandatory mask mandate ban, accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis of a power grab, according to The Herald-Tribue.

A judge has given the 42-year-old Florida governor until Monday to explain his efforts to prevent mask mandates in the state's school districts.

Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lost a similar battle with his mask mandate ban at the hands of Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer. The judge granted a temporary restraining order Friday afternoon that allowed local mask mandates to be enforced, KXAN reports.

In a statement issued Friday, Travis County Judge Andy Brown commended the district judge's decision, which he said confirms their position that Abbott's order limits local power regarding COVID-19.

"This is why I issued additional orders early on protecting our school children and our workforce. It is my hope that the Governor understands that my fight is against COVID-19 and not against him," Brown said, in part.

"As I noted the other day, his threats of legal action are nothing compared to the threat of children getting sick and dying," he added.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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