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AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — As the Texas GOP presses ahead with plans for a July convention, the state’s largest medical group Tuesday urged the party to reconsider before Republican activists flock to Houston, which has become one of the nation’s worst COVID-19 hotspots.

The state’s GOP leaders have maintained that the three-day convention, which typically draws thousands of attendees, will go forward and that face coverings will not be mandated, even as Republican Gov.

Greg Abbott urges the public to wear them.

In Florida, doctors have also called for pushing back the Republican National Convention that is scheduled for August, when President Donald Trump is expected to accept the GOP nomination.

The new plea from the Texas Medical Association, which says it represents more than 50,000 doctors and medical students, amounts to one of the most visible calls yet for Republicans to cancel their in-person convention.

The organization is also a sponsor of the convention, which is scheduled to begin July 16.

“While much of our state has so far been spared the brunt of the coronavirus attack, our metropolitan areas in general – and Houston in particular – are now among the national epicenters of current COVID-19 outbreaks,” the group’s president, Dr. Diana Fite, wrote in a letter to Texas GOP officials.

She continued: “This is just not the time to bring thousands of the party faithful from around the state to an indoor meeting in a county that, as I write, reports more than 18,000 active COVID-19 cases.”

Texas health officials on Tuesday reported a daily state record of nearly 7,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 6,500 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, which is also a state high.

Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey, who previously described the convention as a chance to “lead the way” in promoting personal responsibility, issued a statement in which he thanked the doctors for the letter but was noncommittal about whether it would lead to any changes.

“We are taking all input from those involved with our Convention, including that from our Party leadership and our delegates, very seriously,” Dickey said.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Monday that the city’s 911 call volume had increased by 30% over the past month, with most of these calls coming from people reporting respiratory difficulties. The saturation at local hospitals has resulted in more than 560 instances the past three weeks in which city ambulances had to wait for more than an hour before they were able to transfer patients to medical facilities, he said.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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LULAC president urges Latinas not to join the military after disappearance of Fort Hood soldier

Domingo Garcia, the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said he is urging Latinas not to join the U.S. military after the disappearance of Vanessa Guillen, a U.S. soldier stationed in Texas who went missing in April. 

Guillen, a 20-year-old from Houston, was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas when she went missing. Her family and their attorney said the military dragged its feet on the investigation, which only resulted in the arrest of the suspect this week. 

"We are asking all women, especially Latina women or their families: Do not enlist in the army until we have assurance they will be protected and taken care of when they serve our country,” Garcia said in a statement.  “And right now I just don't believe the military is capable of doing that because of what happened to Vanessa Guillen.”

Before the two suspects were found, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and LULAC each pledged $25,000 for any information on the suspects' whereabouts.

This week, human remains that Guillen's family believes are her’s were found near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas. 

The family's attorney, Natalie Khawam, told reporters that Guillen was killed with a hammer before her alleged attacker, Aaron David Robinson, and his girlfriend, Cecily Anne Aguilar, attempted to burn her body before dismembering her with a machete. 

Robinson died by suicide days ago after being confronted by police in Killeen, Texas, according to the CID, who is leading the investigation. Aguilar is in custody and charged with second-degree felony tampering/fabricating physical evidence.

"There's cameras everywhere, so it's really impossible for her to disappear there from the largest military base in the United States without anyone knowing or finding out," Garcia said. 

Khawam said that Guillen intended to file a harassment complaint against Robinson before her death. Those claims sparked the hashtag #IamVanessaGuillen on social media, which many current and former soldiers have used to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault on military installations.

A CID spokesperson contended at the agency's press conference that there was "no credible information" that Guillen had faced sexual harassment. Her family is calling for a congressional investigation.

Guillen’s family and several House lawmakers have called for a congressional investigation into her disappearance. 

Tags League of United Latin American Citizens Sexual harassment

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