NEW YORK — Help has arrived for hard-hit New York: 69,000 tons worth of help to fight COVID-19.
Less than 48 hours after shipping out of Norfolk, the USNS Comfort arrived at Pier 88 in Manhattan. The ship's 1,100 doctors, nurses, corpsmen, and support staff will treat patients who do not have the coronavirus but who urgently need other care.
Trauma is the hospital ship's specialty, with 12 operating rooms, four x-rays, one CAT scan unit, a radiology suite, plus dental, optometry and physical therapy capability.
"If you think about what these ships are designed for, they're designed for heavy trauma, really significant issues, and so we are postured to take some fairly severe cases," said General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of U.S. Northern Command.
Hospital ships are wholly unsuited to deal with something like the coronavirus which requires isolation and quarantine; the Comfort has open bays with beds that are practically right on top of each other.
Still, the Comfort will supply urgently needed help by taking pressure off New York's already stressed hospital system.
The COVID-19 outbreak that has killed 776 people and infected more than 60,000 in New York state.
"The way we're postured is, we going into the local hospital system," said General O'Shaughnessy. "So we'll be getting the direction from the local hospital system off what patients we should take and be part of the broader effort. We view this, our commander in chief has declared a war on COVID-19. We're part of that as a whole of nation, whole of America approach. And we're incredibly proud to be a part of that mission."
The Comfort will begin treating patients on Tuesday.