The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort will arrive alongside New York City as early as next week, Navy officials said Thursday.
“We’ve accelerated the plan for Comfort. We had originally been looking at April 3, but in all likelihood, she’s going to be getting underway this weekend, so hopefully she’ll be there in New York by the early part of next week,” Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly confirmed.
The Comfort will bring 1,000 additional hospital beds to New York, which is the hardest hit state so far by the coronavirus epidemic within the U.S. with more than 32,000 cases reported.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said his state has only about 53,000 beds but predicted he could need as many as 110,000 beds. He has previously said that the peak of the virus was expected mid-April, but said it could now come earlier.
The Comfort is not expected to treat coronavirus patients, but help alleviate the strain on civilian hospitals in New York, as they deal with an influx of patients with coronavirus.
The Comfort will have more than 1,100 active-duty Navy medical crew, and about 60 Navy reserve medical staff. It is deploying from its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia.
The Navy’s other hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, which is home-ported in San Diego, is expected to arrive in Los Angeles this week to help alleviate a potential strain on civilian hospital systems there.