County officials have contracted with Garner Environmental Services to coordinate the construction of what's known as a non-congregate medical shelter.
Garner will aid in construction, mobilization of medical staff and development of policies for the facilities, according to Harris County officials.
Commissioners have seen what has happened in other areas when hospitals get overrun, so last week they authorized up to $60 million to build emergency medical shelters. Workers at NRG have already started construction.
Today Harris County Commissioners Court authorized up to $60 mil to proactively build out hospital capacity @nrgpark to build as much capacity as possible for #COVID patients in a worst-case scenario. Construction began last week. https://t.co/hynQRa8QeS— Harris County Judge (@HarrisCoJudge) April 7, 2020
Video above shows shelters being built in the orange parking lot at NRG Stadium.
"The construction will start right now in the parking lot of NRG. We, right now, can't build it indoors because, of course, we're still cleaning up from the rodeo," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. "That would be a dangerous situation for anybody with respiratory illness to be around all those materials that are necessary for the rodeo, so it's been done sort of outside."
As of April 5, more than 57 truckloads of supplies have been brought in and 70 construction workers have assembled the structures. On Friday, medical staff arrived to familiarize themselves with the layout of the shelter and begin setting up equipment.
The facility is expected to be able to receive patients as early as Sunday.
The shelter has four medical tents, one administrative tent, one pharmacy tent and two trailers in place to support mental wellness and patient discharge. All of the tents are climate controlled with electricity and access to water.
It will also include 250 beds to start off, with a capacity of 2000 beds, if needed.
The shelter would initially care for patients who are still able to walk and talk on their own.
All patients will first be referred and transported from local area hospitals if they have exceeded their capacity. No walk-up patients will be seen at the shelter.
Saturday's exercise was designed to help medical staff and others familiarize themselves with the operations if the shelter is activated.
County officials hope the federal government will eventually reimburse them for the project.