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Status Of Dallas Pop-Up Hospital Center Of Dispute Between Governor, Dallas County Judge

Smiley N. Pool
Associated Press
Texas Army National Guardsmen set up a field hospital in response to the new coronavirus crisis at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Gov. Greg Abbott says federal officials could move the pop-up hospital at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center if it isn't used to care for COVID-19 patients. The space in downtown Dallas has 250 beds.

"Other federal officials told me that if Dallas County's not going to use that, the people who would be manning that operation and those beds that are currently there right now would have to be located elsewhere,” Abbott said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

But Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the idea that the hospital would not be used is "completely false." He said hospitals across the county still have beds available at the moment.

"It is to be used as a COVID step-down unit when there's hospital capacity issues, probably in a week or two," Jenkins said at a Sunday press conference.

In a letter to Abbott's office, Jenkins stressed the importance of better communication between state and local leaders.

Jenkins said Dallas County Commissioners on Tuesday will discuss a funding proposal for wrap-around services at the pop-up hospital. That would include security, food, laboratory and transportation services.

Meanwhile, a report issued Monday from the city of Dallas said about half of the beds in hospitals across the city were occupied and about 60% of ICU beds were being used. About one-third of ventilators were in use. That's according to data submitted by 21 hospitals.

Syeda Hasan is the Elections Editor and Reporter at KERA. Before moving into that role, she covered mental health at the station. A Houston native, her journalism career has taken her to public radio newsrooms around Texas.