Isle of Wight native saving lives aboard USNS Comfort

Isle of Wight

NEW YORK, N.Y. (WAVY) — Mason Cobb was working as an ICU nurse at the Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk until January. That’s when he decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy. 

“I actually reported to Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth and I was there for about three weeks and they gave me a call and said ‘You’re on the list to go on the [USNS] Comfort,’” Cobb said. “I said ‘Let’s go do this.’”

Three weeks ago, Cobb, who is from Isle of Wight, left Hampton Roads and headed on the military medical ship to New York to help with the coronavirus outbreak.

“At first it was slow just getting things set up and ready to take patients,” Cobb added. “Once we’ve been taking patients, we’ve been rocking and rolling ever since.”

Ensign Cobb works as an ICU nurse on the Comfort. He says he and his shipmates have been working long and emotionally draining hours. The crew has treated 180 patients, and 120 of them have been discharged. 

“A lot of what you hear in the news is that this is a deadly disease,” Cobb added. “I think it is good to see it with my own eyes [that] there is a chance of recovery.” 

Crews are not only trying to save lives, but protect themselves at the same time. So far, four crew members tested positive for the virus. They have recovered and are back at work.

“We’ve had an abundance of supplies every day,” Cobb said. “We get new masks and new PPE gowns. We never run short of anything.”

The Comfort is taking in the most critical patients. As of Tuesday, there are about 30 patients in ICU. Cobb says the worst part of the job is losing a patient.

“It definitely can be a deadly disease depending on the patient’s age and that sort of thing,” Cobb added. “I haven’t experienced it and that’s the goal. I won’t have any deaths under my care.”

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