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Army medical task force heading to Houston as hospitals fill up

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Posted at 11:50 AM, Jul 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-12 12:50:31-04

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced late Friday night that the United States Army is sending a medical task force to Houston to help with the city's COVID-19 battle.

The additional resources, Abbott said, include an Urban Area Medical Task Force from the U.S. Department of Defense that will arrive on Monday and a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from U.S. Health and Human Services that has just been deployed.

"Texas is grateful to the federal government as well as the President and Vice President for working swiftly to provide additional resources to the state as we work to mitigate COVID-19 and care for our fellow Texans," Abbott said in a statement Friday. "We will continue to work with our local and federal partners to ensure all resources and needs are met throughout the state."

Houston has seen a significant rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, which caused many public health officials and hospitals to issue warnings that ICU bed availability is running low. Houston's Texas Medical Center is at 105% capacity.

The city reported 670 new diagnosed COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing Houston's total to at least 26,682. The coronavirus death toll for the city increased by nine to 259.

Numbers are just as jarring throughout the Lone Star State. Texas' statewide COVID-19 death toll reached a single-day high of 105 Friday. The state had a 15.56% positivity test rate, according to an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News.

Nearly 14% of all new U.S. coronavirus cases in the past seven days have been identified in Texas, the memo said.

The rise in cases also led to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to cancel the in-person Republican Party convention in the city, prompting a lawsuit by the state GOP.