1,000-bed hospital ship coming to New York Harbor

Posted On Wed, March 18, 2020 By

Posted On Wed, March 18, 2020 By In Policy

U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta/Released

In a press conference on Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced that he’d reached an agreement with the federal government for the USNS Comfort hospital ship to be dispatched to New York Harbor to help with the growing need for hospital beds, in particular ICU, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow in New York City and New York at large.

As of Wednesday morning, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in New York State was 2,382, an 800 increase from Tuesday. Twenty-three percent of these cases are hospitalized. In NYC, that number of positives is 1,339, 814 more than yesterday. A total of 14,597 people have been tested statewide. Current predictions have the virus peaking in New York in 45 days, in early May. By these projections, the state would need 110,000 hospital beds when they currently have 53,000 (20,000 of these are in NYC). Only 3,200 of these 53,000 are ICU beds.

On Monday, the Governor issued an executive order allowing the State to increase its hospital capacity with the goal of creating an additional 9,000 beds. Working with the National Guard, facilities such as dormitories and former nursing homes will be converted to medical facilities.

In addition, the Governor said that he will be meeting with the Army Corps. of Engineers today in New York to discuss the possibility of them coming in and building temporary hospitals. At the same time, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusettes, a Senate Armed Services Committee member, will send a letter to President Trump today asking for the  Army Corps of Engineers to be deployed more widely across the country to retrofit existing buildings into medical facilities. In the letter obtained by Vox before its release, Warren said, “Given the reality of the exponential growth of the virus, supplemental infrastructure must be designated and ready to receive patients immediately. The Army Corps is in position to help address this public health emergency by converting existing space into temporary medical centers. Taking this action will save lives.”

The USNS Comfort has 1,000 hospital beds and 12 fully-equipped operating rooms. She was first deployed in 1990 during the Persian Gulf War. In more recent years, she was used during Hurricane Maria and for the Venezuelan refugee crisis.

Correction: The original version of this story said the USNS Comfort had 1,000 rooms, when it is 1,000 beds.

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