Gov. Abbott, Trump administration send medical task force to fight COVID-19 pandemic in Houston

Vice President Mike Pence, right, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting about the coronavirus response with Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that additional federal resources are headed to the Houston region to combat coronavirus Monday. The resources include an Urban Area Medical Task Force and a Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

Abbott said he is working with Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump‘s administration to respond to the spike in coronavirus cases in Texas.

“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,” said Abbott. “We will continue to work with our local and federal partners to ensure all resources and needs are met throughout the state.”

Within the last few weeks, Houston has become a hot spot for the virus. The Houston Health Department reported 412 new cases Friday, bringing the city’s total to 26,012. The department also reported five new COVID-19 related deaths.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said the numbers are moving in the wrong direction. He said the city needed to bring the cases down to 300 per day, in order to keep up with contract tracing.

“COVID-19 in Houston and the state is out of control. What we do today and next few weeks critical to getting back to a manageable state,” he said.

According to Abbott, the Urban Area Medical Task Force from the U.S. Department of Defense will arrive in Houston Monday. The 85-soldier task force units are composed of medical professionals from the Army Reserve.

The Army sent more than a dozen task forces to support COVID-19 relief efforts in hardest-hit areas, including New York City, Newark, Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia. Each unit is capable of assisting up to 250 patients.

The Disaster Medical Assistance Team from U.S. Health and Human Services has also been deployed.

These resources are in addition to the Urban Area Medical Task Force operating in Bexar County and the federal assessment teams in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, McAllen, Laredo and El Paso.

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