NEW YORK - President Trump is going to deploy a Navy hospital ship to New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday morning said the USNS Comfort will probably anchor in the New York Harbor in mid-April. He said the ship had approximately 1,000 beds and also has operating rooms.
The ship's exact arrival is unknown because it is docked in Norfolk, Virginia, for maintenance and won't be ready to leave for "a little while," Jonathan Rath Hoffman, a Defense Department spokesman, said at a news conference at the Pentagon. He added that the Navy is being asked to "expedite" the maintenance.
Hoffman said the military will be sending the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy, its sister ship, to locations where hospitals could become overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. However, the ships' personnel are trained for combat casualty care and not treating contagious diseases like the coronavirus. That means the ships probably will not be used to treat coronavirus victims.
"Our understanding is that the intent is the ships will be used to take non-coronavirus patients, which is what our staffs are best assigned and organized to do," Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon and principal medical adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a news conference Wednesday.
The USNS Comfort anchored off the coast of Callao, Peru, July 8, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo)
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said that military medical personnel and military medical facilities are better suited to trauma care than contagions.
"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," Cuomo said in a statement. "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."
Cuomo announced that coronavirus cases in the state jumped by more than a thousand overnight and sit at 2,382 in the state. 1,339 of them are in New York City.
Cuomo also announced further restrictions on businesses. Among them, no business can have more than 50 percent of its workforce doing work outside of their home. Essential services are exempt from the new rules, including pharmacies, shipping services, grocery stores, and food delivery operations.
The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort docked at the Port of Miami. (Getty Images)