The 1,000-bed hospital ship USNS Comfort sailed up the Hudson River on March 30 and moored at Pier 90 in New York City, where non-COVID-19 patients will be treated to ease pressure on city hospitals that are overwhelmed by the CCP virus pandemic.
The U.S. Navy ship had sailed several days ahead of schedule from Norfolk, Virginia, where it was undergoing maintenance when the pandemic reached U.S. shores.
President Donald Trump personally went to Virginia two days ago to bid the Comfort farewell, fulfilling his earlier promise to “kiss it goodbye.”
The Comfort is one of two Navy hospital ships drafted to help with the battle with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The death toll from the virus in New York City is 790 as of March 30; there have been more than 1,000 deaths across the state of New York.
Just a few blocks from the Comfort, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the Army’s assistance, is setting up a 3,000-bed field hospital at the Javits Convention Center as a temporary medical facility, to ease the bed shortage.
With the Department of Defense having just 2 percent of the nation’s hospitals—the majority of which aren’t set up for infectious diseases—the military had warned they could provide only limited direct medical support.
However, the Army and National Guard have been called on to support in other ways.
The Army Corps of Engineers has so far engaged 15,000 troops to help with seven FEMA mission assignments to help build emergency hospitals.
Officials say that the Javits Center could help provide the blueprint for similar facilities as the CCP virus potentially sweeps into other states. So far, according to KKTV, 181 such sites have been identified.
The other Navy hospital ship, the Mercy, arrived in Los Angeles on March 27.
“The ship will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include critical and urgent care for adults,” the Navy said in a statement on March 23.
“This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their Intensive Care Units and ventilators for those patients.”
States have mobilized a total of more than 13,880 National Guard troops, according to a March 28 statement.
The president announced last week that federal funding was being made available to the National Guard in Washington, California, and New York—under Title 32 status—leaving the governors free to activate units without worrying about the cost.
Officials emphasized that the March 22 announcement doesn’t mean the National Guard had been “federalized,” and aren’t under the command of the president.
“That Title 32 status is no different than when the National Guard responds to natural disasters,” Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, wrote on Twitter.
“Governors and adjutants general, who know best what is needed on the ground, will continue to command Guardsmen and women and use them where they are needed most.”
The reservist National Guard, organized under the Department of Defense, is predominantly a state resource—the modern-day heir to organized state militias. The default legal position is that Guardsmen are commanded by the state governor, not the federal government.
Federalizing the Guard would strip the troops of the ability to engage in domestic law enforcement, under the Posse Comitatus Act.