The U.S. Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, waved good-bye to New York City on Thursday and was heading to another assignment after being docked in Manhattan for a month and treating over 100 people, some for COVID-19.
The hospital ship acted as a “relief valve” for overburdened New York City hospitals, originally to treat non-coronavirus patients, but was then enabled to handle COVID-19 cases. The ship, equipped with 750 beds, operating rooms and a pharmacy and could’ve handled 1,000 beds.
Luckily, New York City hit flattened the curve and experienced a dramatic decrease in the number of reported cases and deaths, so the ship is being moved to cities where it may get more use.
“We feel beautiful, God bless America,” said Debbie Raniefello waving a flag with her husband Donald from Whitestone, Queens.
“We came from Queens to show our support. We thank them so much, thanks to the Comfort. They came to help us and I’m proud of them and I’m proud of our first responders,” Raniefello said.
“This is Amercia, and we have pride for the Comfort,” said John Nielsen, of Bay Ridge, also waving a flag. “We all work together and we are New Yorkers and its what we do – it’s a beautiful thing the old red white and blue.”
Patrica Munia, of Sunset Park, brought her 7-year-old son Felipe to see the ship leave harbor.
“I brought my son because I’m taking pictures and Im making him a book so when he grows up, he will have this history,” Munia said. “We try to explain this all to him – I think he understands a little bit.”
The last time the ship hospital docked in New York City was during the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to provide relief to first responders.
City residents watched from the waterfront and some waved flags for the ship’s crew.