Texas deploys more help to hard-hit border as COVID-19 deaths mount

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, notes to medical personnel are hung in an area as they prepare to ender a COVID-19 unit at Starr County Memorial Hospital in Rio Grande City, Texas. As the coronavirus pandemic surges across the nation and infections and hospitalizations rise, medical administrators are scrambling to find enough nursing help  especially in rural areas and at small hospitals. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, notes to medical personnel are hung in an area as they prepare to ender a COVID-19 unit at Starr County Memorial Hospital in Rio Grande City, Texas. As the coronavirus pandemic surges across the nation and infections and hospitalizations rise, medical administrators are scrambling to find enough nursing help especially in rural areas and at small hospitals. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – A raging coronavirus outbreak in Laredo, now one of the biggest hotspots in the U.S., is leading to hundreds of new cases a day around the border city as Texas again reported more than 400 new COVID-19 deaths Friday.

The more than 8,900 new cases reported in Webb County, which includes Laredo, over the past two weeks is one of the highest per-capita outbreaks in the country, according to data from John Hopkins University. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that more medical personnel and equipment would be sent to Laredo, where roughly half of all hospitals beds are occupied by patients with COVID-19 — the highest rate of anywhere in the state.

Overall hospitalizations in Texas continued showing potential signs of stabilizing, but the rising toll of new deaths continued to be the worst since the pandemic began. More than 1,200 new deaths have been reported in the past three days alone as January is already set to go down as the deadliest month of the pandemic in Texas.

Abbott said Laredo has received more than 29,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.


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