McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to return to the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday for the opening of a special COVID-19 facility in the converted McAllen Convention Center, his office said Monday.

The governor visited South Texas last Tuesday and announced that up to 250 hospital beds as well as medical personnel would be sent by the state to help convert the McAllen Convention Center into a field hospital and step-down facility in this hard-hit region that is struggling with unprecedented coronavirus cases.

“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,” Abbott said.

The sprawling convention center campus can hold up to 50 acute care beds and up to 200 beds for less-intensive or convalescing patients who aren’t quite ready to be released from area hospitals. Freeing bed space at local hospitals is necessary to get more COVID-19 patients care, Abbott said.

Abbott said the Department of Defense has sent two 85-person U.S. Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces to the South Texas cities of Harlingen and Edinburg to help combat COVID-19. These teams consists of medical and support professionals who will help meet medical needs at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen and DHR Health in Edinburg.

Abbott is scheduled to return to McAllen on Tuesday afternoon to meet with local officials and brief media at the McAllen Convention Center around 3 p.m.

As of Monday, there are a total of 33,572 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley. There are 928 reported deaths related to COVID-19 and 17,878 recoveries, according to

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