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Military medics sent to California, Texas amid scaling coronavirus cases

Written by on July 17, 2020

Military doctors, nurses and specialists have been sent to help overwhelmed hospitals in California and Texas as coronavirus cases continue spike.

A reported 580 Army and Navy medical support staff have been called in to assist Texas hospitals grappling with the record number of coronavirus cases, according to the military’s health news website, Health.mil.

Texas reported nearly 22,000 new daily cases over the last 48 hours along with 239 deaths, the highest number of cases and deaths reported since the pandemic started.

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“COVID-19 is spreading in workplaces, it’s spreading in families, in parties and gatherings,” Texas Health Commissioner John Hellerstedt said Friday.

An additional 85-person Army medical team was sent to assist in taking over an medical wing in a Houston hospital.

“I am grateful to our federal partners at the Department of Defense for sending these teams to the Valley and working within the community to protect public health and combat this virus,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement earlier this week.

The Republican governor established a mask mandate earlier this month — a policy at odds with other GOP governors and President Trump, faced backlash this week for refusing to re-instate lockdown measures.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo have urged the governor to enforce lockdown measures in Houston, the city with this highest coronavirus case count in the state.

“Listen, there’s no lockdown coming right now,” Abott said Tuesday on a local WBAP radio show.

Texas, along with another Sunbelt state, Arizona, have also had to call in refrigerator trucks to help with the morgue overflow.

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Several states across the U.S. have seen record spikes this week, contributing to the record death rates the country is seeing.

The average daily new death rate over the last week rose by 34 percent from two weeks ago, and the new daily case count also surged by 43 percent, during the same time frame.

The state of California requested that 160 Air Force medical staff be placed in different intensive care units around the state, as the number of new patients and deaths have broken records over the last few weeks.

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California, which reported 258 deaths in the last 48 hours along with nearly 20,000 new cases – the largest two-day total in confirmed cases – has said that hospital capacity remains manageable but medical staff are urgently needed.

“I think people erroneously think of hospital capacity as all about beds and space,” said Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association. “It’s far more than a mattress and a pillow. The most important resource are the people who are taking care of patients.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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