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President Trump announced that it will travel to Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday to send a Navy hospital ship to New York harbor to help hospitals in the country’s largest city cope with the crash. patients in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
USNS comfort scheduled to leave Naval Station Norfolk this weekend after undergoing a quick maintenance – three weeks ahead of schedule – and arriving in New York at Pier 90 on Monday.
“I’m going to say goodbye to him,” Trump said Thursday at a press briefing for the White House coronavirus task force.
The Comfort – a 1,000-bed medical vessel – travels to New York to help hospitals in the New York metropolitan area as they cope with a wave of patients suffering from coronavirus. The naval vessel will not treat patients with COVID-19, but will instead serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore hospitals.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned that the virus is putting great pressure on New York State hospitals and that the state’s hospital system has only 53,000 beds. For days, state and federal officials have been pondering how to create additional space for the expected influx of patients in the coming days and weeks due to the virus.
“We are waging a war against this virus using all financial, scientific, medical, pharmaceutical and military resources to stop its spread and protect our citizens,” Trump said on Thursday.
The Comfort was in the port of Norfolk under repair after a six-month tour of South America and was to be ready to arrive in New York until “mid-April” at the earliest. But senior Pentagon officials said they had stepped up measures to prepare the ship.
New York is currently the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, with more than 33,000 confirmed cases in the state and another 4,400 in neighboring New Jersey.
White House Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx warned New Yorkers earlier this week that they should isolate themselves from others if they have left town for an area less infected.
His message was reiterated by Vice President Mike Pence, who said the federal government is treating New York as “a high-risk area” and will continue to increase resources in the region. Pence said public health officials find one infection per 1,000 people in the New York area, compared to 0.1 or 0.2 per 1,000 people in places like Washington State – where the first major epidemic s ‘is produced in the United States.
“Follow the guidelines we have issued and avoid non-essential travel,” added Pence.
Another Navy hospital ship, USNS Mercy, with 800 employees on board, is now en route to Los Angeles to help relieve the pressure exerted by the coronavirus on the region’s hospital system.
The USNS Mercy, which left Monday morning from San Diego, “will serve as a referral hospital for nonCOVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore hospitals, and will provide a full range of medical care, including critical and urgent care for adults, “the Navy said in a statement.
Originally, the Mercy was to travel to Seattle before being ordered to travel to Los Angeles.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to President Trump on Thursday “requesting the immediate deployment of the hospital ship USNS Mercy in the port of Los Angeles until September 1, 2020”.
Brooke Singman and Greg Norman of Fox News contributed to this report.