Watch: Gov. Greg Abbott in McAllen Convention Center Health Care Facility

Makeshift hospital created to meet region's needs amid COVID-19 surge

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was in McAllen Tuesday afternoon to receive a briefing on the convention center, which was recently converted into a healthcare facility amid a COVID-19 surge in the Rio Grande Valley.

Abbott said the makeshift hospital is already operational with 50 beds, but the center can treat up to 250 patients at one time.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said the surge in resources “is a welcomed relief” for the area, where hospital capacity has filled up.

Texas Divison of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said the facility is for patients who need oxygen or possibly ventilators, but do not need to be in an intensive care unit. The facility is built for patients who require “mid-level” care, Kidd said.

The valley is not just dealing with the pandemic, however. Weeks ago, Hurricane Hanna made landfall near the region, leading to widespread damage in the area.

What happens when a hurricane hits a coronavirus hot spot? South Texas cities found out the hard way

“As communities in the Rio Grande Valley rebuild from Hurricane Hanna, I urge Texans in the area to be mindful of the threat still posed by COVID-19,” Abbot previously said. “As we work to slow the spread of COVID-19, it is vital that we take the necessary action to ensure abundant hospital capacity in the Rio Grande Valley. This temporary facility in McAllen will lessen the strain on the region’s hospitals until we can contain the virus and bring hospitalizations back down.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the governor was in San Antonio to tour a warehouse that is stocking and distributing personal protective equipment, or PPE.

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