Convention Center to Take Patients

Austin again prepares alternate care site as COVID-19 cases surge
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2021 11:30 AM CST
Convention Center to Double as Hospital
The Austin Convention Center is being prepared to care for patients as COVID-19 cases surge in the area.   (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Austin has decided it needs a hospital more than it needs a convention center right now. With Travis County, the city is preparing the Austin Convention Center as an alternate care site for patients. It will admit people needing lesser care, to ease the crunch at hospitals in the area. Intensive care patients and others needing high levels of care will still be treated in hospitals, the American-Statesman reports. "When we exceed capacity, we will do so not only for COVID patients, but for all individuals needing hospital care in this community," one health official said. Coronavirus cases are surging in the area, with active cases hitting a record 6,055 on Friday. "Our hospitals and intensive care units are filling up, and deaths continue to rise throughout Central Texas," the head of the local health authority said.

The alternate care center will take patients referred by hospitals, based on criteria developed by doctors and hospitals, per KXAN. The convention center will open to patients as soon as it has 24-hour staffing. The county medical society has put out a call for physcians to help during the surge. The convention center has been on standby since it was prepared over the summer to take 1,500 COVID-19 patients, though none was admitted. With hospital capacity in the Austin area shrinking, officials think they'll need the building this time. The health authority's leader again asked residents to take steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus—including staying home, washing hands, social distancing, and wearing masks. "The whole region must act now," he said. (More coronavirus stories.)

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