Army hospitals to reach New York on Friday as service struggles to contain virus

Army hospitals to reach New York on Friday as service struggles to contain virus
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Two Army field hospitals sent to New York will be reach the city on Friday and be set up to treat non-coronavirus patients at the Javits Center starting Monday, according to the Army’s top general.

The service’s 531st Hospital from Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 9th Hospital from Fort Hood, Texas are expected to set up at the Manhattan location over the weekend, bringing with them the equipment and personnel to staff 284 beds, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.

FEMA will provide beds and some equipment while the deployed hospitals are bringing roughly 650 personnel and their own equipment, as well. The Army does not need to use tents as the medical facility will be set up within an already existing structure, McConville said. 

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The Army has also deployed to Seattle another 600 personnel with the 627th Hospital from Fort Carson, Colo., which arrived on Wednesday evening.

Army personnel “are coordinating with state and local authorities and conducting a site survey of the CenturyLink Field and a state fairground” to decide where to place the 248 beds they will support, McConville said. 

To gain more help with the missions in New York and Washington state, the Army has reached out to retired personnel with medical expertise to see if they would return to the service as volunteers, McConville said.  

The Pentagon has scrambled in recent weeks to support state and federal efforts to quell the spread of COVID-19 while also keeping its forces and civilian personnel safe.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with coronavirus outbreak Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' MORE on Wednesday ordered a stop to all troop movement overseas for 60 days and raised the military’s health protection level to its second-highest setting for all military installations globally.

But a recently released order from Army headquarters has stated that “mitigation measures taken by the Army to blunt the spread of COVID-19 have proven insufficient.”

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“COVID-19 continues to spread geographically as the number of infected persons continues to rise,” according to the order.

"Additional measures and actions are required to protect the force from further spread of COVID-19."

The Army has 288 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — roughly half of total cases in the military — including 100 soldiers, 64 civilians, 65 dependents, nine cadets and 50 contractors. 

Asked about the recently released order, McConville said more must be done to stunt the spread of the illness, but that training will continue.  

“We’re continuing to train mission essential personnel ... but regardless of where we’re training, we’re putting in effect what I would call almost a safety bubble-type mentality. … We are keeping social distancing,” he said. 

 “I think we need to do more to limit exposure, especially for those who are not doing mission-essential tasks,” he added later.