PHOTOS: USNS Comfort hospital ship arrives in NYC

March 30, 2020

Photo by Michael Appleton for the Mayoral Photography Office

The 1,000 hospital-bed Navy ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York City on Monday, sent by the federal government to alleviate the burden the city’s hospitals are facing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. With more than 1,200 medical personnel on deck, the floating hospital will serve non-COVID-19 patients to take the pressure off the city’s hospitals, which are currently overwhelmed by a growing number of cases. Docked at Pier 90 in Hell’s Kitchen, the ship expects to begin receiving patients in 24 hours after its arrival.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua D. Sheppard

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua D. Sheppard

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Pastrick

The ship comes as New York faces a shortage of hospital beds. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said the state, which currently has a capacity of 53,000 beds, is projected to need up to 140,000 beds at both hospitals and overflow facilities. As of Monday, there have been over 66,000 cases of the virus in New York, with more than 1,200 deaths.

Photo by Darren McGee for the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Photo by Darren McGee for the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the arrival of the USNS Comfort is a sign of hope for New Yorkers. “I really want to say the Navy is doing something amazingly important for us physically in terms of health care for people who are going to need it and relieving some of the pressure of this crisis, but also humanly, morally, psychologically,” de Blasio said in an interview on Monday with NY1.

“It’s such a boost to see the military arrived to help us out. We need all the help we can get here in New York City and to know our military is here to help us. I think New Yorkers are going to feel that in their hearts and it’s going to really encourage us as we go through some really, really tough weeks ahead,” the mayor said.

The 100-foot-tall ship, which has been in use for over four decades, is equipped with 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms. As The Verge reported, the Comfort was formerly an oil tanker that the U.S. Navy purchased in 1987 and converted it into a hospital ship. Its sister ship, the USNS Mercy, is currently headed to the West Coast. Comfort last docked in New York City in the aftermath of September 11 to treat first responders.

The temporary hospital at the Javits Center opened over the weekend; Photo by Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

The temporary FEMA hospital with 1,000 beds at the Javits Center in Manhattan opened to patients this weekend. Last week, Cuomo said President Donald Trump approved four additional temporary sites in each NYC borough for a total of 4,000 additional beds. Work can immediately begin at the sites, which include the Aqueduct Racetrack, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the CUNY College of Staten Island, and the New York Expo Center, and is expected to be completed in early to mid-April.

Three smaller new temporary hospitals will be headed to the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island (260 beds), Westchester Square in the Bronx (200 beds), and the Health Alliance in Ulster County (235 beds). The Psychiatric Center and Westchester Square will be joined by the SUNY Downstate University Hospital in Brooklyn (250 beds) to serve as COVID-only sites to limit the spread of the virus to non-COVID-19 patients.


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