March 30 (UPI) -- The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York City on Monday to relieve the strain on city hospitals overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ship entered New York harbor and passed the Statue of Liberty on its way to Manhattan's Pier 90 on Monday morning, arriving from Virginia. It will treat urgent care patients who do not have symptoms of the virus, but who would otherwise face long delays at the city hospitals, allowing hospital personnel to focus on patients with the virus.
Nearly 1,200 people have died in New York state amid the outbreak, and over 60,000 are infected with the virus.
The USNS Comfort has 12 operating rooms and about 1,000 hospital beds, as well as an 80-bed intensive-care ward, a 20-bed recovery ward and a 280-bed immediate care ward.
"The last time that this great hospital ship was here was in the wake of 9/11, where she served as respite and comfort for our first responders working around the clock," Rear Adm. John Mustin, vice commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said Monday. "Our message to New Yorkers -- now your Navy has returned, and we are with you, committed to this fight."
Its sister ship, the USNS Mercy, treated its first patients on Sunday after arriving in Los Angeles with a similar mission.
"The men and women embarked on board Mercy are energized, eager and ready to provide relief to those in need," said Capt. John Rotruck, the ship's commanding officer.
The U.S. Northern Command announced Monday that a 450-person Naval Medical Unit stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., will soon deploy to New Orleans and Dallas to expand medical capabilities in those areas.
The order calls for organization of Reserve volunteers prepared to support the military's COVID-19 response. Required personnel will be contacted through command channels, the U.S. Air Force said in a statement on Monday.