Austin-Travis County discharges last patients from COVID-19 alternate care site

Coronavirus Hospitalizations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The last COVID-19 patients at Austin-Travis County’s alternate care site were discharged Saturday, closing down the set up at the Austin Convention Center that was meant to help ease the burden on hospitals during the pandemic.

After serving a total of 215 people, who stayed an average of 12 days, the alternate site stopped receiving patients on March 8 as COVID-19 hospitalizations were declining in the area.

“The Alternate Care Site was a critical asset to help our healthcare system remain stable,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We are thankful to the state and all the contracted staff that worked at the facility to care for residents from across Central Texas.”

Escott said in Tuesday’s Travis County Commissioners Court meeting that the area has had a significant 50% decrease in its moving average of new cases in one week. ICU capacity experienced a 24% decrease, however, hospitalizations increased 15% in the past week, which is stopping leaders from moving the area to Stage 3 of its COVID-19 risk-based guidelines just yet.

The City of Austin, Travis County and the Texas Division of Emergency Management established the site at the Austin Convention Center in Summer 2020, but it didn’t open for patients until Jan. 12, 2021. It took in patients who had COVID-19 to make room for those who needed a higher level of care at area hospitals.

Most patients who were at the site came from Travis County, but patients from 11 different counties in Central Texas were also served.

The supplies from the site will be stored at another location and will be used again if cases increase. TDEM said staffing for the site will be available as well should it need to reopen.

Previously, leaders said it would take about a week to set up the site again, if necessary.

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