New York, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort docked on Monday at the Manhattan pier to upgrade the capabilities of local hospitals, which are showing signs of becoming overwhelmed due to the huge numbers of people infected with the coronavirus while the city is scrambling to set up emergency healthcare facilities.
The 1,000-bed, 70,000-ton Comfort set sail on Saturday from Norfolk, Virginia, with a crew of 1,200 – including doctors, nurses, technicians and sailors – and it will begin treating patients on Tuesday.
Personally on hand to see the ship off in Norfolk, President Donald Trump said that the vessel has the mission of providing “hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York, a place I know very well, a place I love. … We will stop at nothing to protect the health of New Yorkers, and the health of people in our country.”
New York state has become the US epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, with this country now having the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases – some 145,000, with more than 2,500 deaths – and New York City being the hardest-hit spot with more than half of the total positive cases.
On the orders of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state authorities are working against the clock to try and expand hospital capacity to handle the wave of Covid-19 patients that is already coming to health centers and which is expected to multiply in the coming days.
Not far from the Comfort, which is docked on a pier in the middle of Manhattan Island’s western shore, expectations are that on Monday the National Guard’s 1,000-bed emergency hospital established in the huge Jacob Javits Convention Center will also begin treating patients.
In addition, it is expected that four other emergency health centers in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and The Bronx will also begin operating, meaning that five of the city’s boroughs will have specially augmented coronavirus healthcare coverage.
Meanwhile, this past weekend, a 68-bed tent hospital was being established in Central Park to enhance the capacity of Mt. Sinai West Hospital, which is located nearby. The white tents of the field hospital are being set up by volunteers from a Christian organization and the facility is expected to be up and running by Tuesday.