July 13 (EIRNS)—U.S. Northern Command announced on July 12 that “as part of the ongoing whole-of-nation response to COVID-19, U.S. Northern Command has assigned approximately 580 Department of Defense medical personnel in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of Texas.” So far, according to a report from Texas Public Radio, 50 members of a group of 85, deployed from Fort Carson, Colorado and consisting mostly of nurses and respiratory specialists, have already embedded with staff at four hospitals in San Antonio, with the rest expected to arrive today.
“An additional five, 85-person UAMTFs (Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces), along with a 44-person Acute Care Team and four, 7-person Rapid Rural Response Teams from the U.S. Navy, were also activated at the behest of Texas to support statewide efforts,” Northcom said. One of those teams is headed to Houston, according to Col. Martin O’Donnell of U.S. Army North Public Affairs. Which hospitals they’ll be going to has not yet been identified, but Lori Upton, vice president for the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council’s disaster preparedness and response, told the Houston Chronicle that the hope is to open anywhere from 20 to 50 beds for COVID-19 patients. “It’s not going to solve the problem, but it will start alleviating some of the crunch.”
O’Donnell also said that federal assessment teams had been sent to Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, McAllen, and Laredo to determine the areas of greatest need—and how best to augment the trauma and emergency healthcare systems in each region.
As of Sunday, July 12, the Chronicle reported, there were 10,410 patients hospitalized for lab-confirmed COVID-19, an increase of more than 300 from a record-high on Saturday, and about 11,700 beds available. About 970 were available for the most critical cases across Texas. Texas’s two senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, along with the state’s Congressional representatives from the Rio Grande Valley, have asked the federal government to create emergency pop-up hospitals to deal with rising COVID-19 rates in Texas.