USNS Comfort arrives in New York harbor to relieve strain on hospitals

Photo by Darren McGee, Office of the Governor
March 30, 2020 — New York City, NY– Governor Andrew Cuomo with Rear Admiral John Mustin welcome the United States Naval Hospital Ship Comfort to New York City

Naval hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York City today. The ship will provide 1,000 hospital beds for patients not suffering from COVID-19, so area hospitals can free up space and focus on patients with serious COVID-19 symptoms who require hospitalization and ventilators.

As of Monday, March 30,  New York has 66,497 positive cases of COVID-19 with 9,517 people hospitalized, 2,352 in intensive care and 1,218 deaths from the virus. As these numbers continue to increase, New York City hospitals have been under immense strain with staff shortages and overwhelmed emergency rooms and intensive care units. Last week, 6,406 medical 911 calls were received in one night, the highest number ever recorded, surpassing Sept. 11, 2001. The apex of the virus is estimated to still be two to three weeks away.

“The soldiers in this fight are our healthcare professionals,” Cuomo said at a press conference Monday. “You know the expression ‘support our troops.’ In this battle, the troops are the healthcare professionals.”

The USNS Comfort provides 1,200 personnel—medical and support staff—and is expected to begin receiving patients from local hospitals as early as tomorrow morning. The ship will provide a full range of care, including “general surgeries, critical care and [general] ward care for adults,” according to the navy’s website.

Cuomo also reached out Monday to health care workers across the nation to come to New York to help with the crisis. The state has already reached out to retired medical professionals and medical students, with tens of thousands of responses, but projections suggest they will need more to deal with the apex of the virus, especially as workers begin to contract the virus themselves.

“If you don’t have a health care crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now,” Cuomo said. “We need relief. We need relief for nurses working 12-hour shifts one after another, for doctors, for attendants.”