News & Politics

Mercy and Comfort: Trump Sends Navy Hospital Ships to Epicenters of Coronavirus Pandemic

YouTube screenshot.

President Donald Trump has sent two U.S. Navy hospital ships to epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.: Los Angeles and New York City. The ships provide a dozen emergency rooms and one thousand extra beds each to supplement the health care systems of these two great American cities, which are likely to find themselves overwhelmed by the pandemic.

Speaking in front of the U.S.N.S. Comfort at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, Trump announced that this hospital ship will arrive in New York City on Monday, three weeks ahead of schedule.

“This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York — a place I know very well, a place I love. We’re here for you, we’re fighting for you, and we are with you all the way, and we always will be. You have the unwavering support of the entire nation, the entire government, and the entire American people,” the president said.

The U.S.N.S. Comfort will start treating patients on Tuesday, while its sister ship, the U.S.N.S. Mercy, arrived in Los Angeles on Friday.

Each ship is equipped with 1,000 hospital beds, twelve operating rooms, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, digital radiology, a CAT scan, two oxygen-producing plants, and a helicopter deck. Trump said the Comfort “also bears our military’s greatest weapon of all: a crew of nearly 1,200 outstanding members of the United States Navy. And I thank them very much.  Among the sailors departing today are some of the finest doctors, nurses, technicians, orderlies, and medical staff anywhere in the world.”

As the U.S.N.S. Mercy arrived in Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “So this ship is truly mercy on the water… and the expression of who we are as Americans and as people at this moment.”

As of Saturday afternoon, there have been at least 52,318 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York State, including nearly 30,000 in New York City. At least 728 people have died of the COVID-19 disease in the state. According to the Los Angeles County Health Department, there have been 1,465 confirmed cases of coronavirus in LA County and 26 deaths from COVID-19. There have been 3,801 confirmed cases in California and 78 deaths.

New Jersey has more confirmed cases than California and fewer than New York, at 8,825 cases and 108 deaths. Washington State ranks fourth with 3,723 cases and 175 deaths. Five other states have more than 3,000 cases: Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

President Trump has said he will combat the coronavirus as a “wartime president.”

In addition to the two hospital ships, he has deployed the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build temporary hospitals. On Saturday, he announced that four hospitals and four medical centers have been completed. Emergency medical stations have been set up in New York, California, and Illinois — with more to come.

“I’ve empowered our nation’s governors with the resources to call up the National Guard and authorized the activation of Ready Reserves,” Trump added. “FEMA has shipped or delivered 11.6 million N95 respirators, 26 million surgical masks, 5.2 million face shields — and a lot are being  made of all of the things I just named right now; we have millions and millions of new medical items being made as we speak, and purchased — 4.3 million surgical gowns, 22 million gloves, and 8,100 ventilators.”

Trump is rallying the U.S. military to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Rather than fighting with bombs and guns, they are fighting with hospital ships and N-95 masks. The crisis may get far worse before it gets better, but the president is rising to the occasion.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.