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Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

The Texas Education Agency said in new guidance Thursday that it will temporarily stop enforcing Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on public school districts imposing mask mandates, citing ongoing litigation.

Driving the news: The guidance came the same day that the Texas Supreme Court declined to uphold the mask ban over a technicality, sending the case down to an appeals court.

Why it matters: Public schools can now, for the time being, require students to wear masks as the Delta variant continues to drive a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

  • The new guidance will also require schools to report positive COVID-19 tests to their local health department, the state health department and all teachers, family and staff who share a classroom or space with the infected person.
  • More than 12,000 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in Texas, according to the New York Times. Abbott himself has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently being treated with the Regeneron antibody cocktail that former President Trump received.
  • Seven counties and 48 school districts had already defied Abbott's mask ban as lawsuits have made their way through the state's court system, according to AP.

Go deeper: Texas requests mortuary trailers, expecting a surge in COVID-19 deaths

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the number of hospitalizations in Texas.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Booster shots overtake first doses in the U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate entire Brazilian city as part of study — FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adultsU.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers on Nov. 8.
  2. Health: New cases down, but the West is at risk — Low vaccination rates exacerbate America's caregiving crisis — COVID is here to stay. So what does "victory" look like? — FDA will review Merck COVID-19 pill.
  3. Politics: NHL announces all but four players have been vaccinated — WHO names new advisory group on COVID origins — Biden admin warns Moderna to "step up" global vaccine supply.
  4. Education: LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations amid staffing shortage — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive — Arizona can't use aid for anti-mask education grants, Treasury says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Oct 15, 2021 - Health

Appeals court declines to block Maine vaccine mandate

A health worker prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination. Photo: Camilo Freedman/APhotografia/Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday denied an emergency request to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from going into effect in Maine, the Associated Press reports.

Driving the news: The mandate, which Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced in August, requires health care workers in Maine to get vaccinated by Oct. 29 or face losing their jobs.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Oct 15, 2021 - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.