Despite rise in COVID-19 cases, Fort Worth plans to reopen convention center soon

Despite a rising number in cases in Tarrant County, the city of Fort Worth is planning to reopen the convention center as soon as next month.

The Tarrant County health director believes the Memorial Day weekend and recent graduations could be contributing to the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the county.

Meanwhile, the city of Fort Worth is deep cleaning its convention center hoping to welcome back paying customers by the end of next month.

Inside the Fort Worth Convention Center, crews are decontaminating.

Michael Crum is the city's public events director.

“We’re in the same position as every other convention center across the country is in,” he said.

For the last three months, the convention center was being used as an overflow homeless shelter. During its 93 days in operation, a handful of guests tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolated from the rest of the population. The triage areas were part of hospital-grade cleaning.

“We’re taking every precaution possible to make sure the venue is ready for our convention guests,” Crum said.

On Monday, the last of the cots were loaded on a truck to make way for the deep cleaning.

The city plans on hosting the Texas Sheriff's Association at the convention center at the end of July. But the latest news about the spread of COVID-19 in Tarrant County is not encouraging.

On Monday, the county reported 171 new infections. It was far fewer than the record 444 cases reported in Tarrant County Sunday. It was more in line with the case totals over the past week.

But Tarrant County Health Director Dr. Vinny Taneja worries about people attending large gatherings and not wearing masks.

“If there is no change in behavior from our community, if the participation on masking and social distancing and trying to stay home is not followed, then we can probably see a double in the next 30 to 40 days,” he said.

READ MORE: Tarrant County health director warns about COVID-19 cases doubling within the next month

Back at the convention center, Crum says everything is subject to change.

“Our guests are monitoring the pandemic and trying to decide if they’re going to go forward,” he said. “Are they going to reschedule or cancel.”

Crum says the Fort Worth Convention Center is pretty much booked up from July through the end of the year. He hopes conventions that choose to cancel will decide to rebook for next year, bringing much-needed revenue dollars to the city of Fort Worth.