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Texas testing centers drowning under virus wave

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Armed with blankets and pillows, Texans wait in their cars for hours outside a testing center in Houston, one of the new COVID-19 epicenters in the US.

“I’ve been here since three in the morning,” said Maria Solis to AFP. The 22-year-old has come to get tested for a second time, after her first came back positive, prompting her to quarantine for 14 days.

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In two weeks, the situation in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States, has sharply declined — as seen outside the United Memorial Medical Center Tidwell, a hospital in a residential neighborhood in north Houston.

“When I first got tested, there were no lines whatsoever and that was maybe two weeks ago,” Solis said.

“I just went inside and it was maybe three cars, and now it’s a big growing number. It’s kind of scary.”

The spread of the coronavirus in Texas has taken a “swift and very dangerous turn,” according to Republican governor Greg Abbott.

Everyone is watching the rate of infection, which is currently at 14 percent — double what it was at the beginning of June.

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Concerns have become so great that Houston is often compared to New York city, which has three times as many residents, at the start of the pandemic.

Huge pickup trucks and ordinary sedans — all the cars move one by one from the line through the white tents constructed in the hospital parking lot.

Some people came with their families, and more than one person has nodded off during the long wait.

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Fernando Galvez, a medical student, joined the long line at 4:00 am.

After seven hours of waiting, he hopes that he can get tested this time, after multiple failed attempts over the past four days, despite his exhibiting symptoms — sore throat and chest tightness.

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The first day he tried to get a test, he arrived at 6:30 am. “There was no chance,” the 24-year-old said. “So here I am again.”

He’s been volunteering in a medical clinic and thinks he might have caught COVID-19 while working there.

Similarly, Raquel Smith, 48, works in the medical field and hopes to get tested for the first time. Her bosses requested that she get a test.

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She arrived before 4:00 am, she told AFP.

“I’m a frontline worker so this is just recommended now, because of the high increase now in cases here,” the respiratory therapist said.

More than 125,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the US, by far the hardest-hit country in the world.

Some Houstonians think the spiking case numbers across the southern and western United States should serve as a national wake-up call.

Bent over his cell phone, Pedro Balderas, 39, has also spent countless hours waiting in the line of cars. He thinks leaders should make wearing a mask — a source of heated debate across the country — mandatory.

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“I think they’d help a whole lot,” he said.


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A delay in Trump finance scandal may prevent the prosecution of other people than the president: court filing

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President Donald Trump is continuing to fight the Manhattan District Attorney's case requiring his taxes and financial documents. But in a Wednesday court filing Cy Vance indicated that there is a need for urgency because his case could involve the prosecution of "other people."

Time is of the essence to minimize "any risk that criminal conduct will go unpunished," says Vance in the filing.

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‘Are you kidding me?’ CNN’s Cuomo lays into Trump for hawking Goya products during a pandemic

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On CNN Wednesday, Chris Cuomo exploded with outrage over the image of President Donald Trump promoting Goya food products from the Oval Office — just a day after his daughter did the same.

"The pandemic is in full effect," said Cuomo. "You tell me how a president, in the middle of a pandemic, has got time for this bullsh*t. Are you kidding me? Hawking products? Goya, I don't care who it is. Resolute Desk? This is what he's resolute about? Pandemic priorities? His daughter Ivanka, top White House adviser, are you kidding me? Marketing for a brand following calls for a boycott after Goya's CEO heaped praise on Trump last week. On your dime, in the middle of a pandemic, they're selling beans. Are you kidding me?"

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2020 Election

Brad Parscale mocked over demotion: ‘Apparently there is a limit to how much you can grift’

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On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced on Facebook that campaign manager Brad Parscale has been demoted, after several months of a reportedly rocky relationship and frustration from the president over his sinking poll numbers.

Commenters on social media buried Parscale in mockery over the news.

Irony: Brad Parscale just got demoted on Facebook. pic.twitter.com/HZ2jWVS5iJ

— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) July 16, 2020

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