Hospital ships being sent to New York, West Coast to help in fight against coronavirus

Posted at 1:44 PM, Mar 18, 2020

NEW YORK -- The Trump administration is sending a hospital ship to New York to help health officials manage the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

The USNS Comfort, operated by the Military Sealift Command, has about 1,000 rooms, according to the governor. The ship would accept non-coronavirus patients, according to The Associated Press.

The ship is gearing up to be deployed and will be docked in New York Harbor, Cuomo said. It wasn’t immediately clear how long it would be before the ship arrived.

The news comes as hospitals around New York City are clearing out beds, setting up new spaces to triage patients and urging people with mild symptoms to consult health professionals by phone or video chat.

Another ship, the USNS Mercy, is also being prepared for deployment on the West Coast, President Donald Trump said at a separate news conference Wednesday.

Cuomo said he also spoke with Trump about setting up mobile hospitals in New York. The facilities can hold up to 250 people, Cuomo said.

“I told the president that we would do everything we need to do to expedite the siting of those facilities,” Cuomo said, adding that his administration is already looking at several possible sites.

Two Navy hospital ships and several mobile facilities would bring thousands of badly needed beds to New York before the anticipated peak of the coronavirus outbreak, which is projected to be about 45 days away, according to state health officials.

Cuomo has repeatedly warned that the state’s health care system is in danger of being completely overwhelmed as the number of cases continues to grow. There were more than 2,300 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, as of Wednesday afternoon. Twenty people have died, according to Cuomo.

Based on the current data, New York will need between 55,000 and 110,000 hospital beds, with 18,600 to 37,200 of those being ICU beds. The state only has about 53,000 hospital beds, of which only 3,000 are ICU beds.

This story was originally published by staff at WPIX.