Navy hospital ship in New York Harbor discharges, transfers last patients

Navy hospital ship in New York Harbor discharges, transfers last patients
© UPI Photo

The USNS Comfort has discharged almost all of its last 12 patients after it was sent to New York to relieve stress on the city’s hospitals due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Northwell Health, the health care network providing assistance to the U.S. Navy vessel.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told The Associated Press that the ship, which has been docked in New York Harbor off Manhattan since March 30, will return to its Norfolk, Va., home port in the near future, although he did not provide an exact date.

The impending departure is “a sure sign of modest progress in mitigating the virus in the nation’s hardest hit city and is a welcome sign,” Hoffman said.

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The 1,000-bed ship had treated 182 patients, with one left on the ship as of Saturday, according to the AP. It was originally deployed to treat patients without the virus, but as cases accumulated in the city, the vessel pivoted to treating COVID-19 patients as well.

New York officials also converted the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan to a temporary hospital, but the facility has seen lower-than-expected patient volumes, according to the AP, with a total of roughly 1,100 patients treated there and 125 continuing to receive care.

The ship’s imminent return to Virginia was announced last week, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE and Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoOn The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions Cuomo describes productive discussion with Trump on infrastructure Governors shouldn't be exempt from the effects of their policies MORE (D) agreeing it was no longer needed in New York.

"I’ve asked Andrew if we could bring the Comfort back to its base in Virginia so that we could have it for other locations, and he said we would be able to do that," Trump said at a press briefing Tuesday following a meeting with Cuomo.

"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," Trump added, saying the conversion of the Javits Center had offset the need for the comfort.