New York is experiencing an exponential rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalization. The problem is when hospital beds and ICU level care capacity is exhausted, treatment for the most vulnerable is not seen, and that is the point when mortality rates surge. To mitigate an Italy-style crisis, President Trump is set to deploy two hospital ships, which could provide several thousand additional hospital beds to New York City's capacity, reported CNN.
"I have directed, as the President has mentioned, the hospital ships Mercy and Comfort to be prepared to deploy to increase the nation's medical capacity and we've also alerted a variety of field and expeditionary hospitals to be prepared to deploy as well as needed," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at the White House on Wednesday.
Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters on Wednesday that USNS Comfort is currently undergoing maintenance in Virginia and would be ready to set sail and anchor in the New York Harbor in mid-April.
WAVY’s Chopper 10 over the USNS Comfort. The Norfolk based “floating hospital” will be heading to New York City to give aid during the outbreak. It will be used for patients not diagnosed with the Coronoavirus the Navy emphasized. More info on https://t.co/C74EBoHKWb @WAVY_News pic.twitter.com/DxRcBtRCGo— Jeff Myers (@wavyphotog) March 18, 2020
Hoffman said USNS Mercy, its sister ship, will accompany the USNS Comfort, and both are being sent to New York because that is a region where the federal government believes the hospital system could soon be overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients. The vessel's personnel are trained to handle combat-related injuries and are not trained in treating infectious diseases. This suggests that the ships would be used to treat non-Covid-19 patients.
"Our understanding is that the intent is the ships will be used to take non-coronavirus patients, which is what our staffs are best assigned and organized to do," Brigadier General Paul Friedrichs said at a news conference Wednesday.
The Pentagon confirmed to CNN that the ships would provide 2,000 additional hospital beds to the city's capacity. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that 50,000 extra hospital beds are needed.
Governor Cuomo: Trump dispatching USNS Comfort to NY: 'It’s literally a floating hospital' | https://t.co/mkokOL4UY4— Ed Serrano (@edserra8) March 18, 2020
By Thursday morning, New York has seen an exponential rise in confirmed cases, now at 3,074, with 8 deaths. The mortality rate is low at the moment because the hospital system can handle the influx of patients.