Members of the New York Congressional delegation are urging President Trump to deploy the Navy’s 1,000-bed USNC Comfort floating hospital ship to New York City to help fight the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Comfort, docked in Norfolk, Va., was dispatched to Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 as well as to the Gulf region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Last year, the medical ship was dispatched to South America and the Caribbean to address the refugee crisis in Venezuela.
“We need the full force of government working together to combat the coronavirus, particularly here in New York City where we’re in the heart of the storm. We need thousands of new beds and deploying the Navy’s floating hospital would be a huge help,” said Staten Island Rep. Max Rose, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan.
Rose crafted a letter to the president along with Reps. Nydia Velazquez of Brooklyn, Jose Serrano of The Bronx and Tom Suozzi of Long Island.
“Deploying the USNS Comfort to New York City is an appropriate step given the severity of this crisis and the ship’s expertise dealing with national emergencies,” the letter to Trump says.
The Comfort contains 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, 1,000 hospital beds, laboratory facilities, and an oxygen-producing plant, the letter said.
“The Comfort has treated more than 550,000 disaster victims to date and has the opportunity to help many more if deployed to New York City,” the letter says.
“Given the contagious nature of coronavirus, we suggest that the hospital facilities aboard the USNS Comfort be used to treat non-coronavirus patients and reduce the capacity of hospitals ashore. Naval personnel can also supply and assist operations onshore while using the ships as a clean operating base for relief services.”
The Comfort is docked in Norfolk, Va. Another medical ship, the USNS Mercy, is docked in San Diego.
Thus far, 1,374 New York residents have been infected with COVID-19 – including 644 cases in New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported Tuesday.
Cuomo said New York could require up to 110,000 medical beds and 37,200 intensive care unit beds to treat a tidal wave of patients sickened by the Coronavirus virus. Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan Monday to create 8,300 additional beds in the Big Apple to address the crisis.