Convention Center Again Eyed As Possible Pop-up Hospital

As cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations continue to increase at the state and local level and new guidance is issued to prevent its spread, there’s a lot of information to take in. Here’s what you need to know today:

  • Convention Center again eyed as possible pop-up hospital;
  • Dallas County reports 391 new cases, four more deaths;
  • Abbott: “Massive outbreak of COVID-19” in Texas;
  • New York enacts travel restrictions on visitors from Texas;
  • Abbott, TDEM to provide free masks for those tested at state-run COVID-19 mobile testing sites.
Convention Center Again Eyed As Possible Pop-up Hospital

As the number of positive cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations continues to increase across the state, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said during a Wednesday press conference that the city, Dallas County, and the hospital council will today again discuss whether or not the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center might be needed as a makeshift hospital. 

“COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Dallas County,” Johnson said. “The data is clear. Our case numbers and our hospitalization numbers, which we’ve been tracking daily, are headed in the wrong direction.

“we want to make sure that we are prepared for what could be happening two weeks from now.”

Dallas Office of Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz said it would take between seven and 10 days to fully stand up the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center as a makeshift medical facility.

“We never stood up that federal medical station. We had everything ready, “ Vaz said. “When we first looked at it two and a half months ago, the need was different. We need to again talk to the hospital CMOs and CEOs on what the need might be if we have to stand that up.”

The DFW Hospital Council told county officials back in April when hospitalizations remained manageable that it didn’t believe the convention center would be necessary, as reported by our sister publication D Magazine.

Dallas County Reports 391 New Cases, Four More Deaths

Dallas County Health and Human Services Wednesday reported 391 additional positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total case count in Dallas County to 18,135, as well as an additional four deaths.

Among the dead are a 60-something-year-old Grand Prairie man, an 80-something-year-old Cedar Hill man, an 80-something-year-old Grand Prairie woman, and an 80-something-year-old Dallas woman. All were hospitalized, and had underlying, high-risk health conditions, according to officials.

An increasing proportion of COVID-19 cases in Dallas County are being diagnosed in young adults between 18 and 39 years of age. Of cases reported after June 1, almost half have been in this age group.  

Of cases requiring hospitalization, more than two-thirds have been under 65 years of age, and about half do not have any high-risk chronic health conditions. Diabetes has been an underlying high-risk health condition reported in about a third of all hospitalized patients with COVID-19. 

Of the 328 total deaths reported to date, over a third have been associated with long-term care facilities.

County health officials have seen an increase of 72 patients over a 24-hour period, to 542 total cases in hospitals.

Additionally, the number of emergency room visits for COVID-19 like symptoms in Dallas County for a 24-hour period ending June 23 was 685, representing more than 28% of all visits according to information reported to the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council.  

Johnson shared Wednesday that 25 hospitals reported their bed and ventilator capacity. Of 6,083 total beds, 69% were occupied, of 942 total ICU beds, 72% were occupied, and of 959 ventilators, 352 (37%) were in use.


“Today’s number of hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases continues a disturbing trend of a surge of a second wave increase of COVID-19. We need the Governor to either implement statewide the rules that we, along with business and health, came up with early on when urban counties were in charge of the state’s response that did a good job of curbing the spread, or go back to allowing the flexibility to counties to do that. Because of all of the mixed messaging and confusion over the last six weeks, it would be best if there was a statewide plan on issues such as masking, workplace separation, workplace safety, and limiting the number of people in facilities and at gatherings,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “It’s unclear how the state will move forward but you, as individuals and leaders in your families and businesses, don’t need to wait. Avoid any unnecessary crowds. Stop going to places where masks cannot be or are not being worn 100% of the time. For services where it’s not possible for people outside your family to be masked at all time, please find ways to obtain those services outside of a group setting.”

Abbott: “Massive Outbreak of COVID-19” In Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged during an interview with KFDA in Amarillo that the state faces a “massive outbreak” of COVID-19 and officials are looking at the possibility of greater restrictions. 

“There is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas. (Wednesday) we will have more than 5,000 people test positive once again, as well as have more than 4,000 people hospitalized because of it,” Abbott told KFDA

Statewide, there were 5,551 new cases reported Wednesday, and 4,389 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the states, Of 1,630,258 total tests, a total of 125,921 cases have been reported across the state.

As a result, Abbott told KFDA that there could be some new localized restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in areas that are “running tight on hospital capacity.”

He said statewide, officials are working to ensure businesses that have reopened remain in compliance with state health standards.

New York Enacts Travel Restrictions On Visitors From Texas

Texans traveling to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will soon be required to quarantine for 14 days, the states’ governors announced, as reported by the Texas Tribune.

The policy also impacts eight other states with COVID-19 infection rates that indicate significant community spread, according to the Texas Tribune.

Abbott had previously ordered travelers arriving to Texas from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Orleans to quarantine for 14 days back in March.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration said violators are subject to mandatory quarantine and face fines between $2,000 and $10,000, according to the Washington Post.

Enforcement will vary by state, the Post reports.

Abbott, TDEM To Provide Free Masks For Those Tested At State-Run COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites

Lastly, as usual, we end today’s digest with some helpful resources and guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Abbott Wednesday announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in partnership with the Texas Military Department, will begin distributing 3-ply surgical masks to every Texan who undergoes COVID-19 testing at state-run mobile test collection sites. Beginning today, each Texan who receives a COVID-19 test at a state-run mobile testing site will be provided with four masks to take home. Texans can find a testing site near them by visiting TDEM’s COVID-19 Test Collection Site map. 

“Wearing a mask or facial covering in public is an effective way for Texans to protect themselves and others from the transmission of COVID-19,” said Abbott. “This program helps ensure that Texans have the resources they need to effectively mitigate the spread of this virus and keep themselves and their communities safe. I continue to urge all Texans to do their part by taking necessary precautions that will reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout our state.”

Abbott’s office and UT Southwestern Medical Center also released a new Spanish-language public service announcement (PSA) about how Texans can protect themselves and others from COVID-19. 

In the PSA, Dr. Amneris Luque, professor of internal medicine and infectious disease and geographic medicine, advises Texans to wear a mask in public, avoid touching your face, wash your hands frequently and effectively, and practice social distancing. 

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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