"The USNS - which is in New York - there’s been a lot of publicity about that coming in and … that was not supposed to be for the virus at all under any circumstances," Trump said during a Sunday White House briefing, "but it looks like more and more we're going to be using it for that."
“The ship is ready, and if it has to, if we need it, if we need it for the virus, we will be using it for that. They’d prefer not, for obvious reasons, but if for any reason they need it, it’s ready, willing and able,” he added.
This follows the New York Times’ April 2 report which claimed the US Navy’s emergency medical ship was only 2% full at the time - with only 20 of the Comfort’s 1,000 beds occupied.
Navy spokeswoman Elizabeth Baker spoke with the Times on Friday and claimed the Comfort’s personnel would begin screening patients for COVID-19 on site. As for the crew themselves, Patrick Amersbach, head of the Comfort’s medical personnel, said that he and his team would do what is necessary to meet their mission if it happens to shift during this deployment.
In an effort to create a “relief valve” for the downstate hospital system, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he would contact the US president about permitting the NYC-docked ship to start accepting COVID-19 patients.
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will call President Trump to shift the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort to a Covid-19 site.— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 6, 2020
It was originally intended to treat non-coronavirus patients pic.twitter.com/OYnFlux6z2
The state of New York has reported a total of 4,758 deaths from the novel coronavirus as of Monday - a significant increase from 4,159 the day prior. NYC alone saw 2,472 of those COVID-19 deaths. According to NYC Health, at least 14,205 of the 64,955 novel coronavirus patients in the city have been hospitalized.
The US Navy previously released a list to area hospitals highlighting 49 medical conditions that would prohibit a patient from being transferred to the medical ship - not including the novel coronavirus. However, Baker revealed over the weekend that COVID-19 had found its way onto the Comfort.
“While admitting patients who were transferred to USNS Comfort for treatment, a few patients tested positive for COVID-19,” she said. Baker went on to claim that the patients were being “isolated,” adding, “we will continue to coordinate hospital-to-hospital transfer of patients to USNS Comfort.”