President Donald Trump has announced that naval hospital ship the USNS Comfort, which was sent to New York City to assist with a surge in CCP virus patients, will return to Virginia soon so it can be routed elsewhere.
Speaking at a White House press briefing on April 21, Trump said he had met with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the two had discussed testing and funding for states. Trump said he also asked Cuomo about reallocating the USNS Comfort to another area where it’s needed.
“I’ve asked Andrew if we could bring the Comfort back to its base in Virginia so that we could have it for other locations, and he said we would be able to do that,” Trump said.
The ship, which has 1,000 beds, two operating rooms, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, and a helicopter deck, was sent to help offset the number of patients in city hospitals amid the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, pandemic, and has treated 178 patients to date, according to Northwell Health which is assisting in clinical operations. There are 58 patients still aboard the Comfort, ABC News reported.
The president said converting the Javits Center convention space into a temporary hospital had made the ship less necessary, telling reporters, “The Javits Center has been a great help to them, but we’ll be bringing the ship back at the earliest time, and we’ll get it ready for its next mission, which I’m sure will be a very important one also.” He didn’t provide further details about the ship’s next destination.
Following his meeting with Trump, Cuomo told MSNBC that they had also spoken about “what the federal government did do during what we call ‘phase one’ when we were ramping up to try to develop hospital capacity,” and that while he appreciated having the Comfort to handle an overflow of patients, the state no longer needed it due to a decline in hospitalizations due to the virus.
“We took our state convention center, the so-called Javits Center, and the Army Corps of Engineers did a fantastic job putting in 2,500 beds,” Cuomo told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace. “The president sent up a Navy ship, the Comfort, which is a hospital ship, which by the way was very good to have in case we had overflow. But I said we don’t really need the Comfort anymore. It did give us comfort, but we don’t need it anymore. So if they need to deploy it somewhere else, they should take it.”
The USNS Comfort arrived in New York on March 30 as part of the military effort to respond to the ongoing CCP virus pandemic, which has had a catastrophic effect on the state. However, on April 17, the president said the lack of patients on the ship appeared to indicate that New York is healing.
“They didn’t need it; that was a good thing. … That’s such a good thing. I mean, I’m not complaining about that. I think it’s a great—that means New York is making progress,” Trump said.
As of April 22, New York has 256,555 confirmed cases of the CCP virus while 19,693 deaths have been attributed to the disease, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.