Coronavirus live updates: US Army sending medical task force to Houston

sonreir es gratis/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — Over 12.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

The United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 3.1 million diagnosed cases and at least 134,097 deaths.

Here is how the news is developing today. All times Eastern.

3:15 p.m.: Boston moves to phase 3 reopening

Boston joined the rest of Massachusetts in moving to its phase 3 of reopening from COVID-19 lockdown, reported the Boston Globe.

In phase 3, gyms, movie theaters, casinos and other activities are allowed to resume, with restrictions.

As of Friday, the state’s death toll reached 8,081 and the number of confirmed cases was 105,290.

932,796 people have been tested in Massachusetts. The state is offering free, no-symptoms required testing in its hardest-hit communities including Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn, Lowell, Marlborough and New Bedford, the Boston Globe reported.

2:31 p.m.: DeSantis would like to see anything else ‘in modern times’ tested like Florida is currently testing for coronavirus, he says

In a press conference Saturday, Florida Gov. DeSantis insisted his state is a leader in coronavirus testing.

“Florida had more tests yesterday than the country as a whole did in March.”

He added that he’d like to see anything else “in modern times” tested like Florida is currently testing for coronavirus.

Senate President Bill Galvano said Florida is “frankly better than most states in the union.”

The governor said the state reported 95,000 tests on Friday and that it was getting shipments of remdesivir, the anti-viral drug being used to fight COVID-19. New York Gov. Cuomo announced Friday that he was sending a shipment of the drug to Florida.

“There are definitely areas where we think we may be seeing some declining positivity [rates] and some other areas where they’re consistently 20%,” DeSantis said. “We may be seeing some decline in this part of the Tampa Bay area,” he said but said there’s more positivity in Pasco County.

“We have a much better idea now versus March about what the viruses likes versus doesn’t like,” DeSantis said.

The governor said he’s working with the White House to get more Lab Reagents in Florida. “The U.S. is testing more than any country by far and the lab resources are backed up.”

He said the state signed contracts with companies that could provide tests in 48 hours and said that’s just not happening anywhere in the country.

1:51 p.m.: Florida records 10,360 new cases

Cases continue to rise in Florida, with the Department of Health reporting 10,360 new cases, pushing the state’s total to 254,511.

There were also 95 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the state’s total to 4,298.

Testing has increased, with 82,737 tests being conducted.

Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the state’s testing in a press conference and said some of the cases included asymptomatic people.

1:41 p.m.: Arizona reports record high hospitalizations

There are 3,485 people currently hospitalized in Arizona due to COVID-19, a record high, according to the state’s Department of Health.

There were 3,038 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 119,930, the department reported. There were also 69 deaths, pushing that sum to 2,151.

1:19 p.m.: South Carolina sets new record of daily cases

South Carolina set a new record of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,239, according to the state’s Department of Health.

The state’s previous record was more than 1,800 cases.

There are now 54,538 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 940 deaths in South Carolina, according to officials.

The total number of individual test results reported to the Department of Health on Friday was 10,083, with 22.2% of those being positive. The department also confirmed the first pediatric death linked to COVID-19.

12:25 p.m.: North Carolina reports more hospitalizations, another daily increase in cases

North Carolina set two somber records over the last 24 hours, with the state recording its highest number of hospitalizations and highest daily increase in cases to date.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,093 hospitalizations and 2,462 new cases Saturday.

“Record-high numbers like today are concerning,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., said in a statement. “We all have a responsibility to one another to wear a face covering, avoid crowds and wash our hands often to get our trends going back in the right direction.”

North Carolina has 83,793 confirmed cases from among more than 1.1 million tests.

11:23 a.m.: University reverses course, will be remote this fall

West Chester University, one of Pennsylvania’s largest state-owned universities, with 18,000 students, has reversed course and said it no longer plans to bring students back in the fall.

Christopher Fiorentino, the university’s president, said in a statement that learning will continue remotely through the fall semester.

“WCU cannot ignore the potential danger of bringing thousands back to campus,” Fiorentino said.

Some classes will be taught in a hybrid format, meaning both in-person and remote learning for students with clinical placements, student teachers and certain internships, according to Fiorentino.

Chester County, where WCU is located, is currently in the Green Phase of reopening, meaning that some of the university’s public buildings — a library, a recreation center, the student union — will be open but limited to 50% capacity.

“The University understands that students’ lives have been turned upside down by a relentless pandemic that continues to sweep across the globe,” Fiorentino said. “Our support for our WCU community will not waiver.”

10:19 a.m.: New York hospitalizations drop below 800 for 1st time in four months

New York recorded 799 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the last 24 hours, making it the lowest number since March 18, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

There was also the lowest three-day average death toll since March 16, with six recorded in the last 24 hours, Cuomo said in a statement.

New York was among the hardest-hit states in the early stages of the pandemic, with New York City especially devastated.

Cuomo applauded the good news, saying New Yorkers who practiced social distancing and wore masks “are central to our ability to slow the spread and save lives.”

However, Cuomo also urged people not to become complacent.

“I urge residents to stay ‘New York tough’ and not give up the ground we’ve worked so hard to gain together, particularly in the face of rising cases throughout the country and compliance issues here at home,” he said.

8:39 a.m.: Clusters of US soldiers test positive for COVID-19 in Japan

A “few dozen” U.S. Marines stationed at two different bases in Okinawa, Japan, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

After months of no confirmed coronavirus cases, the Marine Corps said it had two clusters of soldiers who tested positive for the virus this week, according to a statement from Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

“Preserve the force. Protect our families and the community,” the statement continued.

The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force on Okinawa prefecture have now re-imposed strict limits on their personnel’s movements and activities after the new coronavirus cases appeared, according to an internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News.

Everyone who tested positive is in self-isolation and local commanders have initiated “soft shelter-in-place” orders for Camp Hansen and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

All orders are in place until further notice.

Officials said cleaning the base and contact tracing are ongoing.

“As we navigate the current environment we will continue to assess the situation and provide updates as frequently as permissible. We ask everyone to follow the social distancing and health protection measures to help us #KillTheVirus,” Marine Corps Installations Pacific wrote on its Facebook page.

5:28 a.m.: Army medical task force heading to Houston as hospitals fill up

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced late Friday night that the United States Amry 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, which now stands at 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.

ABC News’ Josh Margolin contributed to this report.

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