Coronavirus: Navy Hospital ship to leave New York after treating 179 Covid-19 patients in three weeks

‘It was very good to have in case we had overflow but I said we don’t really need the Comfort anymore’

James Crump
Thursday 23 April 2020 19:54
Andrew Cuomo says this is no time to act stupidly

The US Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, will leave New York after needing to treat just 179 coronavirus patients in three weeks.

The ship, that includes 1,000 beds and 1,200 medical personnel, arrived in New York City in early April, to help combat the coronavirus pandemic if hospitals became overwhelmed.

The ship will be returned to the Navy, after the demand for coronavirus care in the city didn’t reach the levels feared.

Initially, the ship was intended to treat patients who were not showing Covid-19 symptoms, in order to free up space in New York hospitals, to allow health care professionals to focus on tackling the outbreak.

However, after it was revealed that the Comfort only housed 20 patients in its first day, its purpose drew criticism from health executives.

Michael Dowling, the head of New York hospital system, Northwell Health, told the New York Times that the ship needed to treat coronavirus patients.

“It’s pretty ridiculous,” he said. “If you’re not going to help us with the people we need help with, what’s the purpose?”

After the criticism from Mr Dowling and others, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, received permission from president Donald Trump, for the ship to treat coronavirus patients.​

However, after only treating 179 patients in three weeks, Mr Cuomo told MSNBC on Tuesday, that the ship is no longer needed in New York.

“It was very good to have in case we had overflow, but I said we don’t really need the Comfort anymore,” he said.

“It did give us comfort, but we don’t need it anymore, so if they need to deploy that somewhere else, they should take it.”

Mr Trump announced during his daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, that the ship will leave as soon as possible, in order for it to help in other areas that need it.

“I’ve asked Andrew if we could bring the Comfort back to its base in Virginia so that we could have it for other locations, and he said we would be able to do that,” the president said.

“The Javits Center has been a great help to them, but we’ll be bringing the ship back at the earliest time, and we’ll get it ready for its next mission, which I’m sure will be an important one also.”

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, nationally there are upwards of 842,624 people who have tested positive for coronavirus. The death toll has reached at least 47,178.

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