Multiple coronavirus patients were mistakenly transferred from New York's Javits Center to the Navy hospital ship Comfort on Friday, according to Fox News, citing three US officials.
Until Friday, Javits was only treating non-coronavirus cases until President Trump - at NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's request - authorized the facility to bring on COVID-19 patients. This meant that the existing patients at Javits - a few dozen - had to be transferred to Comfort some 10 blocks away. The ship is only supposed to treat trauma patients, not those infected with coronavirus.
The number of patients on board Comfort is "less than five," according to one official. Of note, the patients had initially screened as negative for the virus, while up to half of those infected with coronavirus show no symptoms, according to new data.
The top general leading the coronavirus response for the U.S. military told Fox News there was another COVID-19 patient who showed up to the hospital ship Comfort in New York earlier Saturday after being delivered by ambulance. The patient later tested positive on board while in isolation.
“We are treating the emergency situation that needs to be treated,” Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy said in a phone interview with Fox News Saturday afternoon and disclosed the new case aboard Comfort. -Fox News
Current protocol is to test patients before they come onboard Comfort, isolate them, and then wait for the results.
Navy officials reasoned that since only a handful of patients had tested positive, their existing protocols are working. They also noted that this illustrates the complexity of the situation.
Comfort, which arrived in New York on Monday, is currently docked on Pier 90 located on Manhattan's west side. It is said to have a "couple dozen" patients on board according to the Pentagon's top spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman.
The positive patients were transferred off of Comfort and back to Javits on Saturday morning to continue treatment according to one official.
The Javits Center has been transformed into a 3,000 bed makeshift hospital by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The officials called the risk to the hospital ship’s crew “low,” because of the protocols were already in place.
“We were prepared with a contingency plan in case we received patients that later tested positive. Immediately upon arrival the patients were isolated while awaiting the test results,” the official added.
Another official pointed out this was why the hospital ship did not want to fill all 1,000 beds on board too quickly because the risk of the virus coming on board is so great. -Fox News
The crew of Comfort is now in the process of sanitizing areas in which the patients were housed, while all US Navy medical personnel were wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
"We have infectious disease specialists on board as well," an official told Fox.
"The Comfort has infection control procedures that are followed just like hospitals ashore. Our medical experts on board are well prepared for cases like this, and have taken the appropriate precautionary measures. The patients were isolated and received care aboard the ship while working to transfer the patients as soon as practical to the Javits Federal Medical Station, which is treating COVID-19 patients. The Comfort is capable of continuing its mission," said Cmdr. Ashley Hockycko - a spokeswoman for the US Second Fleet.
Coronavirus has claimed just over 65,000 lives worldwide as of this writing, of which more than 3,000 were in New York.