New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that President Trump was deploying the United States Navy Ship Comfort floating hospital to New York Harbor to accommodate an expected surge in coronavirus cases, but the ship won’t be able to arrive for another few weeks. The U.S. Navy clarified that the ship is not being sent to treat COVID-19 patients, but it will be available to help with caring for other patients as health professionals focus on handling an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. The Pentagon reportedly later said the ship would not be able to deploy to New York for weeks due to the ship undergoing maintenance in Virginia, but added that it would expedite maintenance.
The announcement came as the state reported 1,008 new cases of the virus in a 24-hour period and New York City confirmed 1,339 cases in total. The Naval ship, which holds 1,000 hospital beds, has previously been deployed to assist with survivors of Hurricane Katrina, wounded U.S. military troops in the Iraq War, and victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for military assistance to combat the crisis, saying the military had “extraordinary medical capacity” that is “needed in places like New York right now.” Cuomo also ordered all New York businesses to force at least half of their employees to stay at home.