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Trump Deploying Navy Hospital Ship To NYC As Virus Surges

Trump Deploying Navy Hospital Ship To NYC As Virus Surges

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced that President Donald Trump has agreed to immediately dispatch a Navy hospital ship to New York City as it wrestles with a surging number of coronavirus infections.

"It's an extraordinary step, obviously," Cuomo said at a Wednesday morning news conference. "It's literally a floating hospital, which will add capacity, and the president said that he would dispatch that immediately."

The ship, which will dock in New York Harbor, is called the USNS Comfort and has about 1,000 rooms, the governor said. NYC had 1,871 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday night, up from about 815 cases that city officials had disclosed Tuesday.

At a separate briefing Wednesday shortly after Cuomo's announcement, Trump indicated that another ship — the USNS Mercy, which is based in San Diego — will be deployed somewhere along the West Coast to assist in the coronavirus response.

The entire Empire State has hundreds of additional cases beyond those in NYC, and the national tally late Wednesday stood at roughly 9,000 cases. There have at least been 20 deaths in New York and 118 deaths nationwide.

Law360 reported Tuesday that hospitals and policymakers are increasingly contemplating ways to accommodate a massive rise in patients, perhaps by reopening shuttered hospitals or utilizing schools, hotels and stadiums. Cuomo on Wednesday said that the federal government may also send "mobile hospitals" to NYC that can accommodate about 250 patients.

"I told the president that we would do everything we need to do to expedite siting of those facilities," he said.

The governor on Wednesday attributed rising coronavirus cases in New York to a "dramatic increase" in testing; he said that more than 14,000 tests had been performed in the state.

"That's why you see the number of positive cases going up," the governor said.

Cuomo also observed that New York has far more cases than any other state, including Washington, the early epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

"I don't know how much of that is due to our increased testing, but we are a more dense environment," Cuomo said.

With 8.6 million residents, NYC is the nation's largest city, and it has a population density of 27,000 inhabitants per square mile, compared to the U.S. average of about 90 people per square mile. NYC's typically jam-packed subways and streets have largely emptied out in recent days amid efforts to contain the contagious coronavirus, which causes a severe respiratory disease called COVID-19. Restaurants, bars and other businesses have also shut their doors in huge numbers, and there have increasingly been calls for a "shelter in place" order that could prohibit residents from traveling outdoors for anything other than essentials, including food, exercise and medical care.

But Cuomo on Wednesday voiced skepticism about whether such an order would be effective, speculating that many NYC residents would simply move in temporarily with friends or family just outside the city's borders. "It can't just be New York City," the governor said, adding that he fretted about the economic impact of such an action.
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