Dallas Convention Center Could Be Used as Site for Coronavirus Patients, Abbott Says

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave the update Sunday

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday announced that the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas was selected to be the site of a pop-up coronavirus hospital meant to be used if local hospital resources are exhausted.

The convention center was chosen given the spread and escalation of the new coronavirus in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Dallas County confirmed a 10th death and 49 new cases Sunday, bringing the total to 488 — among the state's highest. Close to 1,000 cases have been reported in North Texas as of Sunday afternoon.

"Our job is not simply to make assessments of where we are today and be satisfied with that," Abbott said. "Instead, our job is to make sure that we're looking one, two, three, four weeks ahead and make sure Texas is going to be prepared to meet the needs of your communities if COVID-19 continues to increase across the state of Texas."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said a Dallas convention center could be used as a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients and extended an executive order regarding travel.

There are already large-scale medical kits and equipment at the convention center, which just need to be set up, Abbott said.

The convention center has the capacity for 250 beds, but can be expanded, if necessary, to 1,400.

As of Sunday, Abbott said more than 25,000 Texans have tested for COVID-19. Of those, 2,552 have tested positive with less than 200 requiring hospitalization. Those numbers reflect personal interactions prior to executive orders issued and local county orders.

"Existing hospitals will continue to be the primary location to treat and care for those in need, but we must prepare for the worst case challenges as they arise," Abbott said.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a written statement that he was "grateful for the state's assistance."

“The availability of hospital beds will be crucial to saving lives in the event of a surge in COVID-19 cases," Johnson said. "We will continue to work with Governor Abbott to ensure Dallas has the necessary resources to help us through these difficult times.”

The convention center is currently serving, in part, as a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness. The hospital space would not interfere with the shelter, according to the mayor's office.

Abbott said the decision was made after working with Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris of the National Guard in Texas and Brig. Gen. Paul E. Owen with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to identify possible locations.

Owen said they also conducted assessments of the Walnut Hill Medical Center, near U.S. Highway 75, the Embassy Suites on North Stemmons Freeway and the Lumen Hotel.

Abbott also announced new executive orders, including restricting travel by road into the state from Louisiana. People stopped by the Texas Department of Public Safety will have to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they leave the state.

It expands on a prior executive order requiring that people who travel by air into Texas from New Orleans self-quarantine.

The order does not apply to travel related to commercial activity, military service, emergency or health response, or critical infrastructure functions.

Louisiana has reported more than 3,500 cases with 151 deaths, according to the state's Office of Public Health.

He also expanded his executive order issued Thursday that previously included the New York Tri-State area to include air travel into Texas from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, California and Washington State.

In a separate executive order, Abbott addressed the release of dangerous felons from prisons and jails in Texas

"Releasing dangerous criminals makes the state even less safe, but also complicates and slows our ability to respond to the disaster caused by COVID-19," Abbott said.

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