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USNS Comfort to leave New York City

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Four McAllister Towing tractor tugs guide the hospital ship USNS COMFORT into her berth at Pier 90 in Manhattan on March 30. (Photo: McAllister/ David Rider

Less than a month after arriving in New York City, the hospital ship USNS Comfort is to be redeployed. The ship was originally intended to give surge capacity to New York hospitals by treating non-COVID-19 patients. That capability was not needed. A phenomenon seen by doctors across the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic is that their normal caseloads have dropped as patients avoid medical facilities as much as they can. In addition, under lockdown New York City has seen a dramatic fall in traffic accidents and shootings,

Though the Comfort is now prepared to receive COVID-19 cases and patients from New Jersey, it seems that shoreside hospitals are no longer overwhelmed. Additional capacity is also available in field hospitals set up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Javits Center in New York City and the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, N.J. as well as other locations.

The decision to move the Comfort was apparently confirmed at a White House meeting yesterday between President Donald Trump and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“I’ve asked Andrew if we could bring the Comfort back to its base in Virginia so that we can have it for other locations, and he said we would be able to do that,” said President Trump at a press briefing yesterday. “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 will, I’m sure, be a very important one also.”

“The President sent up a Navy ship, the Comfort, a hospital ship which was very good to have in case we had overflow but I said we don’t really need the Comfort anymore,” said Governor Cuomo, in an MSNBC interview last night. “It did give us comfort but we don’t need it anymore so if they need to deploy it somewhere else they should.”

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