The Navy hospital ship sent to relieve stress on New York City hospitals at the height the pandemic received a grand goodbye from police and firefighters as it headed back home on Thursday.
The USNS Comfort, docked at a Manhattan pier since March 30, departed around noon for its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, where it will restock and be readied for another possible assignment, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.
The NYPD and FDNY had a major display of vehicles and boats to salute the ship as it departs.
All 182 patients who were treated on the 1,000-bed ship over the 31 days have been discharged to their homes or to a hospital, Navy Spokesperson Mary Cate Walsh told NBC News.
"Even as USNS Comfort plans to depart NYC, the ship and its embarked medical task force remain prepared for future tasking," Walsh said in a statement. "The Navy along with U.S. Northern Command dedicated forces, remains engaged throughout the nation in support of the broader COVID-19 response."
Originally deployed to care for patients without coronavirus, the Comfort switched gears and started accepting them as the city’s hospitals became overrun with people suffering from the disease.
Hoffman said the Comfort’s departure “is a sure sign of modest progress in mitigating the virus in the nation’s hardest hit city and is a welcome sign.”