Two U.S. Hospital Ships, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, will assist the American coasts in the ongoing health crisis that has resulted from the global pandemic caused by the Chinese coronavirus known as Covid-19.
The USNS Comfort will be deployed to New York City followed by the deployment of the USNS Mercy to the West Coast of the United States.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo welcomed the good news saying,
“It will be in New York City Harbor. This will be, it’s an extraordinary step obviously, it’s literally a floating hospital which will add capacity, and the president said he would dispatch that immediately.”
A U.S. Department of Defense official told NPR,
“Both ships are currently working to complete scheduled maintenance cycles and identify necessary medical staffing to deploy as soon as possible. The Comfort and Mercy will not deploy to treat COVID patients, but will be made available to assist with treatment of other patients in coastal locations where local health professionals are necessarily focused on a large number of COVID cases.”
New York health authorities are preparing for the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak which is expected to take place in the next 40-50 days. According to USNI News, “New York has put out a call for retired doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to help create a reserve force of personnel”.
Joint Staff Surgeon and Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs told Politico,
“If, for example, a community has a large outbreak and there’s a need for emergency room support or trauma support, a hospital ship is perfectly designed to do that. It’s hard to get the hospital ship to St. Louis, but along the coasts, it is an option to use.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters field hospitals will also be deployed saying,
“What we have offered up are what I mentioned — those field hospitals, those expeditionary hospitals. Those provide the same functions as the hospital ships, we can field them fairly quickly, we can provide hospital beds and we can provide doctors, nurses, equipment all those things you need.”