President Donald Trump will be seeing off the USNS Comfort and “kiss it good-bye” as it travels from Virginia to New York with supplies to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking during Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, the president said that he will be traveling to Norfolk, Va., on Saturday to send off the Navy hospital ship which is being dispatched on a mission to support New York City hospitals.
(Source: CBS Miami)
“I told the governor, 20 minutes ago, Governor Cuomo, that the ship will be arriving in New York harbor on Monday. I think I’m going to go out and I’ll kiss it good-bye. I’ll go to — it’s in Virginia as you know. I will go and we’ll be waving together because I suspect the media will be following,” Trump said Thursday.
“I actually look forward to Saturday to see it go. The ship will arrive, and I believe it’s going to get a little bit of a ceremony,” he added. “There’s something very beautiful about it.”
The Comfort is scheduled to depart from Naval Station Norfolk, three weeks ahead of schedule, and arrive in New York’s Pier 90 on Monday.
Although the 1,000-bed medical ship will not directly treat patients with COVID-19, it will be treating others needing critical care, relieving overburdened hospitals in New York, the U.S. epicenter of the global pandemic with more than 39,000 confirmed cases, including more than 460 deaths.
Thank you @USNavy! The NYC metropolitan area is being hit especially hard by this coronavirus outbreak and the #USNSComfort will be a sight for sore eyes when it arrives here!! 🇺🇸 🙏 ❤️ https://t.co/8S0wJQV5L4
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) March 25, 2020
The US Naval Institute reported on the ship’s mission:
The hospital ship, a converted San Clemente-class super tanker that has provided global medical support under the Military Sealift Command for 33 years, was undergoing maintenance work in Norfolk when Trump announced the ship would be deployed to support New York’s COVID-19 outbreak. Comfort will not take on infected patients but will rather care for patients with other needs – emergency surgeries, trauma care and more – to free up beds and doctors at New York hospitals so they can deal with the virus.
Maintenance on the ship was accelerated to expedite its departure from Norfolk, according to USNI News.
To help put the size of the Navy’s hospital ships into perspective, this is a photo of USNS Mercy alongside the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort were activated earlier this week as part of the DoD response to the spreading COVID-19 virus. pic.twitter.com/ZgQmywMfwC
— U.S. Naval Institute (@NavalInstitute) March 21, 2020
The U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy was already deployed and is expected to arrive at the Port of Los Angeles on Friday.
“President @realDonaldTrump will travel to Norfolk, Virginia, this Saturday to bid bon voyage to the hospital ship USNS COMFORT as it leaves for New York City to the frontlines of the COVID-19 virus response,” The White House tweeted Thursday.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 26, 2020
“Over 1200 medical personnel and critical supplies will be onboard the vessel. They will bring to bear the skills, care, and compassion needed to wage this fight against an invisible enemy,” the White House said in a statement.
“These doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, x-ray technicians, orderlies, and other medical staff will augment and support New York City’s medical community and conserve hospital capacity by treating some non-COVID-19 patients aboard the USNS COMFORT,” it continued.
As the USNS COMFORT weighs anchor and leaves Norfolk Naval Station, home to the most powerful fleet in the world,” the White House added, “she does so to embark on one of the most important assignments of her storied career—serving the American people in this great hour of need.”
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