Governor Greg Abbott said Sunday that Texas has more than doubled the number of hospital beds available for patients who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in a recent week.
He announced the state’s first pop-up hospital for COVID-19 patients will be erected by at the Kay Bailey Huchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will lead the effort, assisted by the Texas National Guard, Abbott said.
Dallas County has the most COVID-19 cases of any county in Texas, a key consideration in expanding hospital capacity there. On Sunday, Dallas County reported 49 more known cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 488.
The corps initially will create 250 beds, Abbott said. Not even that many beds are needed now, the governor said. However, the convention center will be able to house as many as 1,400 beds if needed, according to Abbott and Brig. Gen. Paul Owen, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers leader who has helped Texas scour for possible sites for more pop-up hospitals.
Abbott said the state would begin looking for sites for pop-up hospitals in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso -- wherever “COVID-19 has spread the highest” in Texas.
In other locations, he urged elected officials and health care leaders to “contact us about locations that could be temporary health care facilities,” by going to www.texas.gov.
Abbott also broadened his executive order requiring out-of-state air travelers from COVID-19 hot spots to self quarantine in Texas for 14 days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter.
Travel by road from any location in the state of Louisiana into Texas will require 14-day self quarantine, he announced.
The road travel order is the same as the earlier order for air travelers from New Orleans. Some exceptions include commercial, military and first responder travel, he said.
And air travelers from Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and any site in California and Washington state will have to self quarantine for 14 days in Texas, just like those quarantines he announced last week for those fliers coming from greater New York City and New Orleans.
Another executive order from Abbott calls for an end to the release of dangerous felons from jails in Texas, saying inappropriate release of some jail prisoners complicates the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Releasing dangerous criminals into the streets is not the right solution,” he said.