NEW YORK — The USNS Comfort had originally been designated as a space for non-coronavirus patients to be treated in order to alleviate the pressure from over-burdened New York hospitals.
But after a week in New York, the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship had treated less than 40 patients. President Donald J. Trump now says the ship's mission is changing, confirming Monday he called New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to let him know the Comfort can now be used for COVID-19 patients.
“We’re going to let him do it,” said Trump, adding that the ship will be used for patients from both New York and New Jersey. “Hopefully that will be very helpful for both states.”
Because of the ship's large open bays, the belief going in was that the Comfort would be ill-suited to treat COVID-19. But the President says if needed for coronavirus cases, the Comfort will respond.
"The ship is ready and if it has to, if we need it, if we need it for the virus, we will be using it for that," he said. "They'd prefer not for obvious reasons. But if for any reason they need it, it's ready, willing and able."
For the 1,100 member Navy medical crew, they just want to do their part to help, in any way they can.
"I'm anticipating, hopefully, lots of patients," said HM Jennifer Feeko. "I love patient care. And anybody who walks in here, I'm going to do the best I can with the team that I have."
HM3 Alexandra Agudelo is proud to be here.
"This mission has been really special to me," she said. "My uncle actually responded to 9/11 with the Comfort when he was a firefighter in the Army at the time. And having this opportunity to be here and follow in his footsteps is something that's the motivation for me joining the military. It's been pretty awesome."