(AP) — Texas’ most populous county has joined the legal battle by local officials seeking to override Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates and institute protections against COVID-19 as hospitals around the state continue to swell with patients sickened by the virus. Harris County, where Houston is located, on Thursday first filed a lawsuit against Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates by any state, county or local government entity. A few hours later, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the county would require masks be worn inside public schools, non-religious private schools and licensed child care centers. Abbott has said any local entity that defies his order will be taken to court. In the past month, COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 343%.