Temporary hospital to be set up in El Paso convention center

Signs are posted every few feet down the central hallway to provide tips to keep COVID-19 from spreading Tuesday at the Casa de Amistad Alternative Care Facility in Harlingen.(Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A part of the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center will be turned into a makeshift hospital to help with the ongoing surge of coronavirus cases, Texas officials announced Sunday.

Gov. Greg Abbott said 50 hospital beds will be set up in the convention center and another 50 beds could be added if needed.

Abbott ordered the alternate care site to expand hospital capacity in the El Paso area in response to the coronavirus surge, he said. The site, scheduled to open this week, will provide additional medical equipment and medical personnel.

The state has already provided over 900 medical personnel to El Paso, some of whom will be staffing the convention center site.

“The alternate care site and auxiliary medical units will reduce the strain on hospitals in El Paso as we contain the spread of COVID-19 in the region,” Abbott said.

El Paso County health officials reported 772 new coronavirus cases Sunday, a day after a record 1,216 new cases were reported, making up more than 20% of the 3,793 new cases reported statewide. That brought the total cases since the pandemic first hit Texas to 862,375. An estimated 91,885 active cases were the most since Aug. 30, and the 5,206 COVID-19 hospitalizations reported Sunday was the most since Aug. 22.

Meanwhile, the true number of cases in Texas is likely higher though because many people haven’t been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

The 48 new COVID-19 deaths reported Sunday raised the state’s death toll for the outbreak to 17,504.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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