DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Gulf Coast residents have already begun heading inland, but, regardless of what destruction Marco or Laura may bring, the large and open spaces that once offered shelter to evacuees will remain closed.

“What we will do is help people get to a hotel should they want to send people here,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

In 2017, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas became a “mega shelter,” housing thousands of Texans fleeing Hurricane Harvey.

To avoid fueling COVID-19 outbreaks, though, both Dallas County and the city of Dallas say they will not consider a similar congregate shelter this year, if asked to accept evacuees.

“There are plenty of safe places to stay and to go,” said Chief Nim Kidd of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, when CBS 11 News interviewed him earlier this year.

The state, he said, was reworking its hurricane response plan and had identified small hotels and motels it could use, including many in North Texas.

“We have the availability right now. We have the low occupancy numbers,” said Justin Bragiel, with the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association.

Because of COVID-19, he said, hotels statewide currently have about half the number of guests they normally would and are already working with local governments to shelter people in need.

“The city of Dallas and Dallas County, they have contracts right now with hotels to house COVID individuals and so they already have those relationships and there’s you know availability there,” said Bragiel.

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