Navy to Send Hospital Ship USNS Comfort to New York City

March 18, 2020

The USNS Comfort, a US Navy hospital ship is headed to New York City Harbor immediately to help with the growing healthcare crisis due to the coronavirus. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) made the announcement during a press conference Wednesday. 

As explained by Defense Secretary Mark Esper during a briefing earlier this week, the Comfort is focused on treating trauma rather than infectious disease. 

"Our capabilities are focused on trauma so whether it is our field hospitals or hospital ships they are focused on trauma. They don't have the space, the segregated space you need to deal with infectious diseases," explained Esper. 

Cuomo also said the state is working closely with the Department of Defense in regard to the deployment of field hospitals. According to Esper the best location for field hospitals is near existing hospitals so if people come in with trauma they can go to the field hospitals. 

Esper said one of the ways they are looking to use hospital ships and field hospitals is to "take the pressure off civilian hospitals when it comes to trauma cases to open up civilian hospital rooms for infectious diseases." 

But Esper warned Tuesday that as we discuss field hospitals and activating National Guard and Reserve units we need to be mindful of the impact that will have on local communities. 

"All those doctors and nurses come from our medical treatment facilities or they come from the reserves which means, civilians so what we need to be very conscious of as we call up these units and use them to support the states that we aren't robbing Peter to pay Paul," said Esper.  

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