This facility was established to take specific patients who need a lower intensity of care. Patients needing higher-level or intensive care will still be cared for at hospitals.
The facility will provide Central Texas with additional hospital beds, medical equipment, and medical personnel to assist with the region's COVID-19 response, according to a press release from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM). The facility has a capacity of 25 beds and can expand to more beds if needed.
Patients entering the alternate care site will be transferred from hospitals. It is not a walk-up site, according to a press release from local officials.
Dr. Mark Escott, the interim Austin-Travis County health director, said last week that the convention center could be pressed into service as a field hospital as cases surge from Christmas and New Year's holidays.
"Opening the facility is a signal to the community that we have a long way to go in our fight against COVID-19 and we are grateful to the Texas Division of Emergency Management for their support in the rapid opening of this facility," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "While we have increased the capacity of our healthcare system, we have to reduce our risk and flatten the curve immediately. Central Texas must come together and say that we will not accept unnecessary hospitalizations and death due to COVID-19."
Other parts of Texas, including the Rio Grande Valley, opened make-shift hospitals last year as COVID-19 bore down.
"This Alternate Care Site in Central Texas will reduce the burden on local hospitals and help ensure that Texans diagnosed with COVID-19 receive the care they need," said Governor Abbott. "I thank our partners in Travis County, the City of Austin, and the Capital Area Trauma Regional Advisory Council for working collaboratively with the State of Texas to establish this facility. We will continue to provide the resources and support that our communities need to keep Texans safe."
Now Texas is working to rapidly ramp up vaccinations. Cities throughout the state are using new mass hubs for people to get shots, but the effort is still limited by the supply of medicine coming from the federal government.
Texas has seen a surge in newly confirmed coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. More than 13,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized statewide on Monday, state health officials reported, and nearly 30,000 people in the state have died since the pandemic started.
The Associated Press contributed to this article