“It was like a beacon of hope”: USNS Comfort arrives at New York Harbor

The hospital ship Comfort passes by the Statue of Liberty this morning to help in the Covid-19 crisis. (Photo by Bruce Cotler)

Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, arrived at New York Harbor on Monday from Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia and will begin treating patients on board by Tuesday, March 31. 

“I had this incredible feeling of peace that help was finally coming,”said Mayor Bill de Blasio during a press conference at Pier 90 on Monday. Shortly before the media briefing, de Blasio stood on a nearby rooftop and watched the “moving” image of the military ship pass by the Statue of Liberty on its way to Pier 88. “It was like a beacon of hope,” he added.

Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort passes the Verrazano Bridge early Monday, March 30. (Photo by Bruce Cotler)

The hospital ship will act as a “relief valve” for overburdened New York City hospitals  and treat non-coronavirus patients, said Rear Adm. John Mustin. The ship is equipped with 750 beds, operating rooms and a pharmacy and has the potential to increase its capacity to accommodate 1,000 beds. As similar military ship, the USNS Mercy, docked in Los Angeles on Friday. 

The last time the ship hospital docked in New York City was during the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorists attacks to provide relief to first responders.

But more help is still needed. 

Mayor de Blasio said that the city will need 60,000 hospital beds to treat the rapidly growing number of coronaviurs patients. Mayor de Blasio said that the city will need 60,000 hospital beds to treat the rapidly growing number of coronaviurs patients. Before the pandemic, New York City had roughly 20,000 hospital beds. To meet increased demand, hospitals are now required to up their capacity by 50 percent which often means that two or three beds are crammed into a single room. An additional 2,000 beds  for coronavirus patients at the temporary hospital in Manhattan’s Javits Center will help struggling city hospitals when it opens this week. 

 The Brooklyn Health Center for Rehab and Healthcare will provide an extra 600 beds, 350 extra beds are being set up at Roosevelt Island’s Coler Hospital, 150 extra beds at Westechester Square Hospital, 120 at North Central Bronx Hospital, according to Bloomberg’s hospital bed tracker

“The toughest weeks are ahead,” said de Blasio on Monday before asking the federal government, again, to send as many ventilator, N-95 masks, gloves, gowns, surgical masks and medical personnel as possible in order to add to the city’s stockpile.

On Friday, the mayor announced that 20 trucks were shipping 10,000 boxes of gloves, 50,000 face shields, 40,000 gowns and 20,000 N-95 masks and two million surgical masks along with 800,000 respiratory masks would arrive to the city over the weekend. But de Blasio warned that despite the new shipments, medical supplies could still run out by April 5. 

During an interview on Monday with PIX 11, the mayor called on President Donald Trump again to send 400 more ventilators to the city by the end of the week. Having more supplies, the mayor said,  will prepare hospitals for the rising wave of coronavirus patients which is expected to reach it’s apex in 12-19 days.

As of 10 a.m. on Monday, March 31, there are 36,221 cases of coronavirus in New York City with 11,868 of those cases in Queens, 9,521 in Brooklyn, 6,830 in the Bronx, 5,877 in Manhattan and 2,091 in Staten Island, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

The number of deaths in New York City due to complications after contracting the virus, is now 790 with 256 of those deaths occurring in Queens, 188 in Brooklyn, 193 in the Bronx, 103 in Manhattan and 49 in Staten Island.

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