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The Austin Convention Center, which has been prepared as a field hospital should local facilities need more space, will not open yet.


"We've delayed to some extent the opening of the alternate care site to ensure that the hospitals are getting the staff they need to support their efforts before we staff the ACS," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told county commissioners on Tuesday.

Hospitalization rates in the Austin area have stabilized recently, with overall hospital occupancy falling slightly. ICU occupancy may be a different story—it was reported at 89% at the end of last week at the same time that social media posts appeared with accounts of stretched resources—but the field hospital is not meant for patients that need a high level of care.

"[Hospital capacity is] not going in an upward direction anymore, but the hospitals are impacted right now," Dr. Escott told commissioners. "Our health care workers, our nurses, our physicians, our allied health professionals in the hospitals are busy, and they're tired."

Because of more severe outbreaks in southern Texas, Austin will likely need to recruit workers from outside of the state. "I think the funds are available," Dr. Escott said. "The challenge is finding the people."

(Austin Public Health)


Mayor Steve Adler told CBS Austin that the convention center facility may still be needed in the future, and he tweeted yesterday to encourage nurses and skilled technicians to sign up to help with pandemic response.


This article has been updated with new information.

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