A U.S. Navy hospital ship with 800 staff on board is now en route to Los Angeles to help relieve the strain coronavirus is putting on the area’s hospital system.
The USNS Mercy, which departed Monday morning from San Diego, will “serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, and will provide a full spectrum of medical care to include critical and urgent care for adults,” the Navy said in a statement.
“This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their Intensive Care Units and ventilators for those patients,” it added in a statement.
The USNS Mercy is seen docked at Naval Base San Diego on Wednesday, March 18. The ship is now heading to Los Angeles. (AP)
Mercy’s sister ship on the east coast, USNS Comfort, will arrive in New York in the next “three or four weeks” following a maintenance period, President Trump said Sunday.
The Comfort has been undergoing extensive repairs in Virginia, delaying its availability, but top Pentagon officials say they have expedited measures to ready the vessel.
Both ships will carry 750 beds (75 percent of normal capacity) to house trauma patients.
The ships also will carry “three times as many medical staffing as normal,” a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News last week.
The Mercy originally was set to head to Seattle before receiving orders to go to Los Angeles instead.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to President Trump Thursday “requesting the immediate deployment of the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to the Port of Los Angeles through September 1, 2020.”