USNS Comfort To Treat COVID Patients From NY And NJ; Crew Member Tests Positive

WCBS 880 Newsroom
April 07, 2020 - 1:53 pm

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A crew member on board is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 as the floating hospital gets transformed into a coronavirus treatment center.

That person likely picked up the virus before coming to New York.

In order to protect the crew, medical personnel will bunk down in a hotel, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reports.

The Navy this will not affect the 1,000-bed hospital ship's mission to receive patients. 

The news came hours after President Donald Trump said the USNS Comfort will now be used to treat COVID-19 patients from both New York and New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced during his coronavirus briefing that the federal government had approved his request to send patients from New Jersey to the ship docked in New York City.

“This is a big step for us,” the New Jersey governor said.

The Navy ship has about 1,000 beds aboard it and was being used to treat non-COVID patients from the five boroughs, trying to ease pressure off the hospitals on land. Most of the beds sat empty since arriving in the city last week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said once it transforms into a COVID-positive facility, the capacity of the ship will drop to 500 beds because coronavirus patients require a greater treatment area and more space.

But the governor said the ship is still a tremendous benefit and combined with the 2,500-bed facility at the Javits Center the 3,000 total beds provided by the two centers will be a welcome overload relief to the hospital system.

During his daily coronavirus briefing as well, President Trump confirmed he had approved both requests from New York and New Jersey.

“(Cuomo) asked whether or not it would be possible to use the ship with respect to fighting the virus and we hadn’t had that in mind, at all, but we’re going to let him do it,” Trump said. “We’re also going to let New Jersey.”

President Trump noted that New Jersey is also a “hot spot” and needs help reducing pressure on hospitals.

The two states have the greatest number of coronavirus cases in the nation.

New York has reported over 130,000 positive cases with nearly 5,000 deaths while New Jersey as confirmed almost 50,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths.

Both states have set up a number of field hospitals, including a FEMA-run hospital at the Jacob Javits Center. However, both governors announced Monday that both states are beginning to see a flattening in the curve of infections.

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