New York City’s ‘big boost’: USNS Comfort’s arrival drew crowds, photos show

The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship equipped with 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms, arrived in New York City Monday as it hopes to ease the strain on area hospitals reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The intention is that the ship will host non-coronavirus-related patients, freeing up resources at medical centers dealing with the outbreak. 

New York City rapidly emerged as the U.S. epicenter for the virus. As of Tuesday morning, the coronavirus death toll in the city was marked at 914, which represents more than a quarter of the U.S. death count of 3,170, per the Johns Hopkins coronavirus database.

As a result, medical centers around the area are in dire need of more beds. The USNS Comfort should help with that. President Donald Trump said Saturday that beds “will be opened up all over the city,” thanks to the assistance provided by the ship.

“The number of beds we had in the beginning of March has to triple by May,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. “It’s a daunting task, but we got a big, big boost.” 

De Blasio said Tuesday on NBC’s Today that he expects all hospital beds in the city, an estimated 20,000, will soon be needed for coronavirus patients requiring intensive care.

“We require a level of hospital capacity that we’ve never seen, we’ve never even conceived of,” the mayor said. 

In the interview, de Blasio also criticized the crowds of people who watched as the ship arrived, calling the lack of social distancing “unacceptable.” He said that the NYPD has been authorized to give out fines of up to $500 for people not practicing social distancing.

In addition to the hundreds of hospital beds and one dozen operating rooms, the ship is complete with a pharmacy, an optometry lab, radiology, CAT-scan equipment, two oxygen-producing plants and a helicopter deck.

The ship could start taking patients as early as Tuesday. 

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The U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort makes its way past the Statue of Liberty as it sails into New York City March 30, 2020 to aid in the city's battle with the coronavirus. The ship will provide 1000 hospital beds to make room in city hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort makes its way north on the Husdon River to dock at Pier 90 in New York on Monday, March 30, 2020. The ship, serve as referral centers for non-COVID-19 patients in the New York City area.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort makes its way north on the Husdon River to dock at Pier 90 in New York on Monday, March 30, 2020. The ship, serve as referral centers for non-COVID-19 patients in the New York City area.
New Yorkers peer through a fence at Pier 90, recording the moment on their cell phones, during the arrival of the USNS Comfort, Monday, March 30, 2020.
People watch as the USNS Comfort hospital ship pulls in to Pier 90 on the Hudson River on March 30, 2020 in New York City.
The U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort makes its way past the Statue of Liberty as it sails into New York City March 30, 2020 to aid in the city's battle with the coronavirus. The ship will provide 1000 hospital beds to make room in city hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
The U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort makes its way up New York Harbor March 30, 2020 as it sails into New York City to aid in the city's battle with the coronavirus. The ship will provide 1000 hospital beds to make room in city hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
The crew of the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort stands on the deck as the ship makes its way up New York Harbor March 30, 2020 while sailing into New York City to aid in the city's battle with the coronavirus. The ship will provide 1000 hospital beds to make room in city hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
The U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort makes its way up New York Harbor March 30, 2020 as it sails into New York City to aid in the city's battle with the coronavirus. The ship will provide 1000 hospital beds to make room in city hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort transits the Hudson River Channel as the ship arrives in New York City in support of the nation's COVID-19 response efforts on March 30, 2020.
Kaylah Jenkins dons personal protective equipment during infection control training aboard the USNS Comfort as the ship transits the Atlantic Ocean on its way to New York City on March 29, 2020.
Hospitalman Apprentice Nikki Capozello, left, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Rebekah Perkins practice running an IV line during a medical response team training aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort.
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Devin Kren takes a patient's vitals during a patient transfer drill aboard the USNS Comfort while en route to New York City on March 29, 2020.

Follow USA TODAY’s Jay Cannon on Twitter: @JayTCannon

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