U.S. Navy Ships & Hospital Units Deployed To Assist In Coronavirus Response
A U.S. Navy ship is being deployed to Seattle and two Army hospital units are being sent to other locations to assist states with their response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The U.S. Navy hospital ship will set sail for Seattle on Monday. The other two active duty Army mobile hospital units have received “prepare to deploy” orders for two separate not-yet-determined locations, according to Army Chief of Staff General James McConville.
Another ship, the USNS Comfort will be deployed to New York in a “couple weeks,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said during a Wednesday.
New York and Washington are the two states hardest hit by the virus. New York currently has over 8,400 active coronavirus cases and had 56 deaths. Washington has just over 1300 active cases and 83 fatalities.
Neither the USNS Comfort nor the USNS Mercy, the ship headed to Seattle, will treat coronavirus patients onboard. Their approximate 1,000 beds each will be used to treat other illnesses or injuries and alleviate some of the pressures civilian hospitals are facing from the virus.
Similarly, the two army units would not treat coronavirus patients. They will be sent to where additionals beds are needed to reduce crowding in hospitals.
Staff and crew members will be screened for coronavirus ahead of boarding the vessels, Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham told reporters during a video conference call at the Pentagon.
The deployment of the ships represents the government’s increasing concern over the virus, which has caused nearly 300 deaths in the U.S. and sent markets plummeting.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has also requested a ship to dock outside of Los Angeles.
In a letter dated Wednesday, Newsom requested the usage of the USNS Mercy, since it is docked in San Diego — significantly closer to Los Angeles than to Seattle. Regardless of the exact ship, Newsom’s request for assistance will likely still stand even with the ship traveling to Seattle instead.
“This resource will help decompress the health care delivery system to allow the Los Angeles region to ensure that it has the ability to address critical acute care needs, such as heart attacks and strokes or vehicle accidents, in addition to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases,” Newsom wrote. “The population density in the Los Angeles Region is similar to New York City, will be disproportionately impacted by the number of COVID-19 cases.”
California has the third-highest amount of cases, behind New York and Washington at 1,225 active cases and 24 deaths.