Austin readying Convention Center as COVID-19 alternate care site

Field hospital will be ready for patients next week, if needed

Talk 1370 Newsroom
July 15, 2020 - 1:28 pm
Austin Convention Center

AUSTIN ( -- The Austin Convention Center will be ready to serve as an alternate care site by next week, officials announced Wednesday morning.

Dr. Jason Pickett, alternate health authority for Austin-Travis County, said the hope is that the center won't be needed.

"I hope we don't have to take a single patient in it," Pickett said. "But we have to be ready for it, and we will be ready."

Pickett added that hospitalizations appear to be leveling off slightly, another reason officials are optimistic the field hospital won't be needed. "We have a little bit of glimmer of hope in this week’s numbers where we’ve seen a slight leveling off of the hospitalization numbers," Pickett said. "Where we were on a rapid increase, we've seen that plateau slightly just over the last few days. It is difficult to say if that is going to remain, or if we are going to continue on this upward trend."

When the field hospital is ready on July 21, Pickett said, intensive care patients will likely continue to remain at area hospitals. The field hospital, which officials have said could scale up to as many as 1,500 patients, would take those who have less severe symptoms and aren't critically ill.

Officials have said the biggest challenge facing area hospitals continues to be finding qualified staffing, something that area leaders are requesting assistance from the State on.

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