Two U.S. Navy hospital ships will be deployed to New York and the West Coast to help provide medical care as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the country.
An update from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) showed that as of today, March 19, there were 10,442 confirmed COVID-19 cases across all 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), Puerto Rico, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands. One hundred fifty (150) people already died from respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
During a press conference, President Donald Trump announced the deployment of the two U.S. Navy hospital ships—the USNS Comfort to New York and the USNS Mercy to the West Coast. Both hospital ships have 1,000 beds, 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a blood bank, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, and a CAT-scan.
According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the USNS Comfort is expected to arrive at New York’s harbor in April. It will significantly increase the state’s hospital bed capacity to provide medical care for patients.
In a statement, Gov. Cuomo said, “We are fighting a war against this pandemic and we know that two of the most effective ways to stop it is by reducing density and increasing our hospital capacity so our healthcare system is not overwhelmed.”
“An extraordinary and necessary step”
The Governor added, “The deployment of the USNS Comfort to New York is an extraordinary but necessary step to help ensure our state has the capacity to handle an influx of patients with COVID-19 and continue our efforts to contain the virus.”
Gov. Cuomo signed an executive order requiring businesses that rely on in-office personnel to reduce their in-office workforce by 50 percent. Businesses providing essential services—the shipping industry, warehouses, groceries, food production, pharmacies, banking, and related financial institutions— are exempted from the executive order.
“Partnering with the private sector to require nonessential employees to work from home will also go a long way toward bending the curve. My number one priority is protecting the public health so that a wave of new cases doesn’t crash our hospital system, and we will continue taking any action necessary to achieve that goal,” said Gov. Cuomo.
As of March 18, there were 4,152 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus across the state of New York.
Meanwhile, Assistant Defense Secretary for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman told CNBC that the USNS Mercy will need several days to prepare for its deployment to help provide medical care for patients infected by the novel coronavirus.
He said the USNS Mercy “will be prepared and ready to go much sooner, it has had a warning order to get ready for the last few days, so they are hopefully going to be able to go in days, not week[s].”