Construction underway for coronavirus medical shelter at NRG Stadium

NRG Stadium
A temporary medical shelter is being constructed outside NRG Stadium to help house patients if area hospitals run out of capacity while treating COVID-19 cases. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

A temporary medical shelter is being constructed outside NRG Stadium to help house patients if area hospitals run out of capacity while treating COVID-19 cases. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

Just weeks after the Houston Rodeo was canceled due to fears of coronavirus community spread, NRG Stadium is undergoing a transformation to serve as an ancillary medical site for patients.

Construction crews began work April 6 on a medical shelter that will assist the Houston area’s hospital system should any hospitals surpass capacity during a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters the hospitals in the Greater Houston area are operating at 70% capacity collectively, citing reports from first responder data system The Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.

“We hope that we don’t get to the point where we will have to use it,” Hidalgo said. “In the meantime, we will have to find what we will need to use it."

The site, which is adjacent to the Texas Medical Center, is getting set up in the NRG Stadium parking lots rather than inside. Hidalgo said this is done to prevent respiratory illnesses from spreading and because deconstruction of rodeo facilities is still underway. She said the protocol follows similar efforts in other cities, including medical shelters active in New York City’s Central Park.


The county is working to secure medical staff for the site who will not come from area hospitals and thus further their strain, Hidalgo said.

Until more aid is available, Hidalgo said she secured assurance from the federal government; the county will be reimbursed for up to 75% of the cost of opening and operating the site.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.