A 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship will be sent to New York to relieve pressure on hospitals bracing for an expected surge in coronavirus patients, officials announced Wednesday.
The USNS Comfort is set to bolster the health care system by treating non-coronavirus patients while hospitals treat people with COVID-19.The Comfort, along with USNS Mercy, which will be sent to the West Coast, will offer capacity for people with medical conditions other than coronavirus.
"It has operating rooms. The president will dispatch the Comfort to us...It is an extraordinary step," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
In addition to the extra 1,000 beds, the floating hospital holds 12 fully equipped operating rooms, laboratory facilities and an oxygen-producing plants.
This isn't the first time the Comfort will have been in New York City. Last time, it was stationed off Manhattan's West Side in September 2001. The hospital ship arrived to Pier 92 three days after the 9/11 terror attacks, helping to treat hundreds of Ground Zero first responders.
Since that time, it has supported military campaigns and humanitarian missions, along with earthquake and hurricane relief. Most recently, the Comfort was deployed in Latin America offering services to countries with lacking health care services.
The announcement of the Comfort’s planned deployment comes as New York City-area hospitals are clearing out beds, setting up new spaces to triage patients and urging people with mild symptoms to consult health professionals by phone or video chat instead of overrunning emergency rooms.
The Navy said in a statement that it was “working to complete scheduled maintenance cycles and identify necessary medical staffing to deploy as soon as possible.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the ship was likely to arrive by mid-April after staffing up and undergoing maintenance in Virginia.