Hospital Ship Comfort Arrives in New York to Help with Coronavirus Patient Surge

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  • USNS Comfort arrives in New York Harbor
    The USNS Comfort arrives in New York Harbor to support the national, state and local response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), March 31, 2020. The hospital ship will provide approximately 1,000 beds for urgent care patients not infected with the virus, relieving pressure on local hospital systems. (K.C. Wilsey/FEMA)
  • USNS Comfort transits the Hudson River Channel
    The hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) transits the Hudson River Channel as the ship arrives in New York City in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, March 30, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo/Sara Eshleman)

New Yorkers cheered from the harbor shoreline Monday morning as the USNS Comfort arrived in Manhattan with a Coast Guard escort to help the city’s medical staff combat the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump visited Naval Station Norfolk Saturday to see the ship off on the journey.

The Comfort is crewed by civilian mariners and gets most of its medical staff from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Its sister ship, the USNS Mercy, went from San Diego to Los Angeles last week with a similar mission.

At a press conference Monday, Rear Adm. John Mustin, vice commander of the Norfolk-based U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said the ship “represents all that is good about the American people."

"I know that for our military families, social distancing is not a new concept,” he added.

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Mustin said the ship, staffed with more than 1,100 medical personnel, was expecting to start receiving patients Tuesday. It was prepared “in record time,” he said.

The Comfort docked at a pier in Manhattan but will not accept walk-in patients. The idea is for the Navy to alleviate the strain the coronavirus pandemic is placing on the city’s hospitals by taking in referred patients who are not affected by the virus. That will include general surgeries, critical care and ward care for adults.

The ship is “acting as a release valve for other urgent needs,” Mustin said.

Last year, the Comfort traveled to Central and South America in response to Venezuela’s political and economic crisis.

The last time the ship docked in New York was in the wake of 9/11, Mustin said in a news release. The Comfort had provided meals, housing and medical and psychological services to those working on recovery efforts at ground zero.

“Our message to New Yorkers – now your Navy has returned, and we are with you, committed in this fight.”

This article is written by Katherine Hafner from The Virginian-Pilot and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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