Norfolk-based USNS Comfort ‘floating hospital’ heading to New York City to give aid during outbreak


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk-based USNS Comfort hospital ship is heading to New York City after New York’s governor announced there are now more than 1,300 total cases in America’s most populous city.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says there were 1,339 cases total in New York City as of Wednesday, up from 463 just two days ago. There are also 2,382 cases in the state, an increase of 1,008 from Tuesday.

The Comfort would be used to treat patients with other medical needs and not those diagnosed with the coronavirus, the Navy emphasized.

The Comfort, which has about 1,000 beds, is currently in port for routine maintenance, and had yet to officially receive deployment orders as of noon Wednesday, per Navy spokesperson LaShawn Sykes with Military Sealift Command.

Cuomo had said the Comfort would be dispatched “immediately.”

The Comfort’s sister ship, the USS Mercy is on standby in San Diego and its destination will be determined, President Donald Trump said Wednesday in a press briefing.

Here’s the official statement from the Navy:

“The Navy is always ready to support Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) missions, and the USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) and USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) are preparing to provide possible DSCA support if called upon. 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.  More information on the possible deployments of Comfort and Mercy will be announced once a firm timeline is established.”

The Comfort has responded to major events before, including Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Maria.

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