NY State Governor Cuomo: The USNS Comfort will Now Treat COVID-19 Patients!
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that President Trump had granted his request to allow the USNS Comfort treat COVID-19 patients. This comes after the Governor’s plea earlier in the day. The announcement came during his televised phone conversation with MSNBC’s Katy Tur.
The Governor’s Announcement whilst speaking with Katy Tur:
“…The President spoke to the Department of Defense and granted that request to use the Navy Ship Comfort for COVID patients. So, that’s an additional 1,000 beds with federal personnel managing that ship. So, that’s a welcome relief and the President granted the request. … Between the 2,500 at the Javits Center and the 1,000 beds of the Comfort, that should be a major, major relief system for already overtaxed hospital system.”
Governor Cuomo Earlier in the day:
“I’m going to call the president this afternoon and ask him to shift the Comfort from non-COVID to COVID. … That is the only way we sustain this level of intensity in the hospital system. I understand what the original plan was with the Comfort, but I understand that there is no preordained strategy here. You have to feel it out day to day and you have to adjust with the facts. We do not need the Comfort for non-COVID cases. We need it for COVID.”
The USNS Comfort arrived in NYC a week earlier on March 30. The 70,000 ton floating hospital has been sitting at Pier 90 on the west side of Manhattan since then. Originally meant to act as a backup to the overburdened hospital system, the ship had been reported as having a very small number of patients. This stands in stark contrast to the many beds and medical personnel needed in seeing to the continuous rise in confirmed cases needed hospitalization and ICU beds.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow had recently brought the subject up on her show questioning why the ship was dealing with merely a handful of patients instead of playing a more direct role in assisting the city in its battle with the pandemic.
The following day on April 2 she would have the Governor on her show.
Rachel Maddow: “The New York Times reporting tonight that the Comfort has a grand total of three patients on board. The Comfort of course has been set up to not take coronavirus patients, until today, the Javits Center was not planning on taking any coronavirus patients either but your office released a statement tonight saying that now that has changed. It seems odd for those things to be changing course now. It seems weird for the hospital ship to essentially be disused in the harbor when New York hospitals are full up. What can you tell us about those federally supported facilities right now?
Governor Cuomo: In fairness, Rachel, the plan was both the U.S. Navy ship Comfort, and the Javits Center emergency medical facility were supposed to be for non-COVID-19 people. The plan was they would be a relief valve for the local hospitals to take the non-COVID patients, and then more COVID patients could go into the hospitals. What has happened is the COVID patients have overwhelmed the hospitals. Hospitals have now just basically turned into ICU units with COVID patients and because everything is closed down, there are fewer normal trauma cases, and since I stopped all of the elective surgery, you don’t have those patients. So the offloading of non-COVID patients really doesn’t exist. The Javits Center is at 2,500 beds. We are at desperate search for beds with staff. Javits has beds but more importantly federal staff, and federal equipment. And I called the President this morning, and I explained the situation to him, and to his credit, to his credit, Rachel, in one day he turned around, and he called me this afternoon and said we’re going to use Javits for COVID patients, which is a big deal. It’s 25 additional, 2,500 additional beds. The military apparently doesn’t want to use the ship for non-COVID-19, because of a protocol on how they would then disinfect the ship which I don’t really understand, frankly. But the ship was never supposed to be for COVID patients. The original understanding was non-COVID-patients.”