The USNS Mercy, a U.S. Navy hospital ship with 800 staff on board, is heading to Los Angeles to “help relieve the strain coronavirus is putting on the area’s hospital system,” reported Fox News.
“#USNSMercy will be getting underway #TODAY in support of the nation’s #COVID19 response efforts. As announced by @realDonaldTrump, the ship will head to Los Angeles,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday tweeted on Monday.
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The ship departed from San Diego on Monday morning and will “serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include critical and urgent care for adults,” the Navy said in a statement.
The Navy added that this will “allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their Intensive Care Units and ventilators for those patients.”
USNS Comfort, Mercy’s sister ship, is said to arrive in New York in the next three or four weeks following a maintenance period. It has been going through extensive repairs in Virginia, thus delaying its availability – but according to top Pentagon officials, they have expedited measures to prepare the vessel.
Both the Mercy and the Comfort will carry 750 beds – 75% of normal capacity – to house trauma patients.
The Hill reported that even though Washington state has the highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus on the West Coast, officials said Los Angeles was chosen because California is expected to have the greater need.
“Even though there are more cases right now in Washington, the projected needs for beds in California is five times more that of Washington,” Pete Gaynor, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) administrator, said on Sunday at the White House.
The Mercy is expected to arrive at the port of Los Angeles “within the week” and will be able to treat patients the day after its arrival, as said by Capt. John Rotruck, commanding officer of the ship.
According to officials, the Mercy is prepared to stay in Los Angeles as long as necessary and can go elsewhere after if directed by FEMA.