The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds, has taken in just three patients since docking in New York City on Monday, according to a Department of Defense briefing given Thursday. The coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed the city’s medical system, depleting hospitals’ vital supplies and overcrowding rooms, and the Comfort was sent to treat patients with conditions other than COVID-19. Despite the desperation, the ship is largely empty. Another ship of similar size, the USNS Mercy, has docked in Los Angeles to aid in recovery efforts, but only 15 patients had been transferred there. Military protocols and red tape, including a strict list of what conditions ship personnel cannot treat, have stymied the boats from accepting more patients. Ambulances cannot deliver patients there without dropping them at a hospital first. “It’s a joke,” one New York hospital executive told the New York Times.
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