By Keshia Clukey (Bloomberg) — The Navy hospital ship Comfort is being dispatched to New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters in Albany on Wednesday.
The floating hospital, which has previously been sent to disaster zones such as Haiti and post-Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, can help free 1,000 beds for coronavirus patients, the governor told reporters in Albany.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Tuesday that hospital ships aren’t equipped to handle infectious disease patients but could provide care for trauma victims, allowing more beds in hospitals for those with the coronavirus.
The leaders of New York and New Jersey raised alarms on Tuesday about potentially severe shortages of intensive-care rooms and equipment to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases. New Jersey’s governor requested federal military assistance to deal with shortfalls.
The governor said he would meet with officers of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday afternoon to discuss creating emergency hospital space.
There are now 2,382 positive cases in the state, Cuomo said, of which 1,339 are in New York City.
UPDATE: The federal government is sending a hospital ship to New York, the USNS Comfort.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 18, 2020
The Comfort, which has about 1,000 rooms on it, will be moored in New York Harbor.
Hospital beds are what we need. pic.twitter.com/CwTVJhJvDi
New York state will be in desperate need of hospital beds and ventilators soon and may need more than 12 times the existing intensive-care capacity, Cuomo has said.
The state is estimating the numbers of cases caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak will peak in 45 days, at which point it will need between 55,000 and 110,000 hospital beds, as well as 18,600 to 37,200 intensive-care unit beds, Cuomo told reporters in Albany. New York currently has 53,000 hospital beds and 3,000 ICU beds available, he said.
Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated USNS Mercy in the headline.© 2019 Bloomberg L.P