Hard-Hit States Await Navy Ships That Will Back Up Virus Care

Governors in California and Washington are awaiting word on where a U.S. Navy relief ship will dock during its deployment to provide extra hospital beds amid the coronavirus outbreaks.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) each requested the USNS Mercy to care for patients other than those with coronavirus. The states are expecting a surge in patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The Navy has no timeline on when the decision about where to locate the Mercy will be made, spokesman Lt. Samuel R. Boyle said Friday.

The Mercy is undergoing maintenance in San Diego, and its arrival date is not certain. Its sister ship, the USNS Comfort, is undergoing maintenance in Norfolk, Va., Pentagon officials said.

The Comfort will be dispatched to New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday. It will help free 1,000 hospital beds when it arrives in a few weeks.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Tuesday that hospital ships aren’t equipped to handle infectious disease patients but could provide care for trauma victims.

Washington had 1,376 confirmed cases and California had 1,040 cases as of Friday afternoon, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“While we are taking very aggressive measures to slow the spread of this deadly disease among our vulnerable citizens, it is becoming clear that our hospitals will be overwhelmed soon,” Inslee said.

California asked President Donald Trump for the Comfort to go to Los Angeles to deal with heart attack, stroke, or accident patients who aren’t being treated for Covid-19.

With assistance from Keshia Clukey

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce E. Cutler in San Francisco at jcutler@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com; Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com

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