After one month in New York City, the USNS Comfort, the 1,000-bed (later 500-bed) hospital ship, has left its pier in midtown Manhattan and is returning to Norfolk, Virginia.
The ship dispatched in mid-March, meant to help with an overflow of patients as the city dealt with a deluge of coronavirus patients. While the city's hospitals and frontline medical staff have been overwhelmed, the ship was never full. It treated a total of 182 patients since its arrival on March 30th, and the federal government announced last week that they would begin to draw down the Comfort as well as the pop-up hospital at the Javits Center.
The Comfort was originally intended to treat non-COVID-19 patients, but Governor Andrew Cuomo requested that the ship also take virus patients, which then forced a reconfiguration that left it with 500 beds. As many nursing homes have had a large number of coronavirus cases and fatalities, some operators wondered why they couldn't sent their symptomatic residents there for isolation.
"Even as USNS Comfort departs NYC, the ship and its embarked medical task force remain prepared for future tasking," statement from the U.S. Northern Command said. "The Navy, along with other U.S. Northern Command dedicated forces, remains engaged throughout the nation in support of the broader COVID-19 response."