President Trump on Monday said the USNS Comfort docked in New York City will now be used to treat coronavirus patients, granting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo request to shift the hospital ship intended purpose of handling non COVID-19 cases from all of the metro hospitals.
“[Cuomo] called me up a little while ago and asked if it would be possible to use the ship with respect to fighting the virus,” Trump told reporters at The White House Coronavirus Task Force Press Briefing Monday evening. “We hadn’t had that in mind at all but we’re going to let him do it.”
The president also said New Jersey will also be able to send COVID-19 onto the ship.
“New Jersey is going to use it as well because New Jersey is also a hot spot,” Trump added. “It’s a big ship and it’s now set for COVID patients and hopefully, that will be very helpful to both states.”
Earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his press briefing that he would call President Trump to shift the use of a Navy ship to treat coronavirus patients, adding that the president has been helpful to New York and “moved very quickly” in the past.
“I’m going to ask him if we can make this adjustment for us because it would be truly beneficial,” Cuomo said. “We would feel much better knowing that we can sustain this pace if we could start to offload patients to these two facilities.”
The New York Governor said with the additional 1,000 beds on The Comfort and the 2,500 beds at the Javits Center should be a major relief for the overtaxed hospital system.
The ship, which arrived last Monday and is docked off Manhattan Pier 90 has so far treated 41 non-Covid patients. Before patients are admitted to the Comfort, EMT workers are required to take patients to a hospital to tests if one has the virus, before transferring them to the ship. With hospitals using every inch of space devoted to patients infected with the coronavirus, New York officials and hospital management criticizing that the ship had been little or no help in New York.
“As it turns out, we don’t have many non-COVID symptoms because when you close everything down, the silver lining was traffic accidents, crime went down. So, we really need help with the COVID patients,” Cuomo said.
Shortly before Trump’s announcement, Cuomo tweeted that President Trump has granted his request.
“I spoke to the president and he has agreed to our request to treat #COVID patients on the USNS Comfort,” Cuomo tweeted. “This means 1,000 additional beds staffed by federal personnel. This will provide much-needed relief to our over stressed hospital systems.”
Trump acknowledged on Sunday said the Navy hospital ship might be needed to be used to treat coronavirus patients “if we need it.”
New York is the epicenter of the United States coronavirus outbreak, paralyzing a city famous for never standing or sleeping. As of Monday evening, New York state recorded a total of 130,689 people confirmed cases and killed at least 4,758 people. In New York City, at least 68,776 cases have been confirmed, a half of all the cases in the state with 2,738 virus-related deaths reported.