The US Navy announced late Monday evening that a crew member aboard the USNS Comfort had tested positive for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, just hours after US President Donald Trump announced the near-empty Comfort would begin accepting infected patients to provide relief to New York City and New Jersey hospitals.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced early Monday that he would be in touch with Trump to request the Comfort start accepting patients infected with the novel coronavirus. Hours later, the US president announced he would let the governor lead the charge.

“We’re going to let him [Cuomo] do it and … New Jersey is going to use it also. New Jersey is a hotspot … it’s a big ship and it’s set for COVID,” Trump said during his Monday afternoon news conference.

“There is no impact to Comfort’s mission, and this will not affect the ability for Comfort to receive patients,” the service statement read. “The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board.”

Prior to Trump’s Monday order, the Navy emergency medical ship was docked in New York City to treat non-coronavirus patients. The service had also sent area hospitals a list of 49 additional medical conditions that would prohibit someone from being transferred from the ship.

“Taking on more patients as quickly as possible is critical to helping the city of New York during this pandemic crisis,” Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of the US Second Fleet, said of the policy change, as reported by ABC News. “We listened to the feedback from area health professionals and the community and believe this is the best way we can help our fellow Americans.”

NYC alone accounts for nearly half of the state’s fatalities, with 2,738 COVID-19-related deaths confirmed in the city.



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