BREAKING: Pentagon Preparing Navy Hospital Ships for Coronavirus Response

Per Governor Andrew Cuomo:

UPDATE: The federal government is sending a hospital ship to New York, the USNS Comfort.

The Comfort, which has about 1,000 rooms on it, will be moored in New York Harbor.

Hospital beds are what we need.

USNI News reports the Pentagon is starting the process of activating Navy hospital ships USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) as part of the Defense Department’s domestic response to the spreading COVID-19 virus, USNI News has learned.

“We’ve already given orders to the Navy… to lean forward in terms of getting them ready to deploy,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters on Tuesday.

The ships will now begin the several days-long process of bringing aboard medical staff and equipment ahead of deploying along the East and West coasts, a defense official confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday afternoon.

Two sources told USNI News that the idea was for the ships to provide relief for coastal hospital systems, with the ships taking on non-COVID-19 cases and allowing the hospitals to focus on the most critical patients suffering from the virus. The Pentagon also has extensive equipment for erecting field hospitals in addition to the hospital ships, but those facilities are optimized for trauma cases, with several beds close together, and not for infectious patients.

“So one of the ways you could use field hospitals, hospital ships or things in between is to take the pressure off of civilian hospitals when it comes to trauma cases, to open up civilian hospital rooms for infectious diseases,” Esper said.

On Monday, Joint Staff surgeon Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs gave more details on how the ships could support civilian hospitals.

“If, for example, a community has a large outbreak and there’s a need for emergency room support or trauma support, a hospital ship is perfectly designed to do that,” Friedrichs told Politico on Monday.
“It’s hard to get the hospital ship to St. Louis, but along the coasts, it is an option to use.”

Each ship has a 1,000-bed capacity and is manned by military medical personnel, requiring about a week or more to mobilize those personnel from across the active duty and reserve forces. Pentagon officials have stressed that many of the reserve medical personnel that would be called up to staff mobile hospitals or Mercy and Comfort would be partially pulled from civilian medical facilities.

Read more here. 

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