More space in Austin for hospitalized virus patients

Frontline healthcare workers check information at a COVID-19 testing site amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in El Paso on November 13, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. Texas eclipsed one million COVID-19 cases November 11th with El Paso holding the most cases statewide. Health officials in El Paso today announced 16 additional COVID-19 related deaths along with 1,488 new cases pushing the virus death toll to 741. Active cases in El Paso are now over 30,000. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Frontline healthcare workers check information at a COVID-19 testing site amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in El Paso on November 13, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. Texas eclipsed one million COVID-19 cases November 11th with El Paso holding the most cases statewide. Health officials in El Paso today announced 16 additional COVID-19 related deaths along with 1,488 new cases pushing the virus death toll to 741. Active cases in El Paso are now over 30,000. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas – Health officials in Austin and Travis County announced Saturday plans to to open space in the Austin Convention Center for COVID-19 patients as hospitalizations in Texas set a record high for the 13th consecutive day.

State health officials reported 13,935 patients hospitalized statewide, 14 more than Friday.

The Alternate Care Site in Austin was initially established during a summer surge of the coronavirus, but has not yet taken patients, according to a statement from the Austin-Travis County Health Authority.

“Activating the Alternate Care Site means that we believe that it is inevitable that the healthcare system in Central Texas will exceed capacity and will soon be overwhelmed,” said Dr. Jason Pickett, deputy medical director of the health authority.

The site is for patients who do not need high-level or intensive care, according to the statement. Patients needing high-level or intensive care will remain at hospitals.

As of Saturday, there have been more than 1.9 million virus cases in Texas and 29,691 deaths since the pandemic began.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases in Texas has risen from 14,553.7 per day on Dec. 25 to 20,396.8, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and the average positivity increased from 14.18% to 20.88%.