NAVY hospital ship USNS Comfort is set to dock in New York on Monday for urgent coronavirus relief after Donald Trump "kisses it goodbye" from Virginia, the President said on Thursday.
The 1,000-bed hospital ship will set sail for New York on Saturday to provide relief to the city's overwhelmed and under-resourced hospitals at the epicenter of the nations coronavirus crisis.
Ahead of its departure, Trump told reporters at the White House briefing: "I think I'm going to go out and I'll kiss it goodbye.
"I will go and we'll be waving together, because I suspect the media will be following."
The White House then announced that Trump would indeed be travelling to the Norfolk Naval Station on Saturday to "bid bon voyage to the hospital ship," a release to the press said.
The trip will mark the first time since the president has left Washington since March 9.
I think I'm going to go out and, I'll kiss it goodbye .... I will go and we'll be waving together, because I suspect the media will be following.President Trump
Trump has been trying for days to determine how to contain the economic fallout of the guidelines issued by his administration as well as local leaders to slow the tide of infections.
He initially announced that hospital ships Comfort and Mercy would be used during the pandemic on March 18 - an endeavour that was estimated to take two weeks, Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said.
However, Trump said that the Comfort will depart four days ahead of schedule.
"So it's going to be leaving on Saturday instead of three weeks from now," the president said.
The ships won't be used for patients who have COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, but will instead provide beds for other sick patients to clear room in the cities' hospitals.
The USNS Mercy is sailing to Los Angeles from Naval Station San Diego and is expected to arrive Friday.
Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said deploying the hospital ships could "take the pressure off of civilian hospitals when it comes to trauma cases to open up civilian hospital rooms for infectious diseases."
NEW YORK EPICENTER
New York state is dealing with the brunt of the nation's coronavirus cases.
State officials say the death toll has jumped over 100 in just a day to 385.
About half of the cases of coronavirus in the nation have been identified in New York state, with New York City claiming 385 deaths at the epicenter of the outbreak.
It's the most deaths in a single state in the country.
The number of confirmed infections in New York rose to 37,000 - about half the U.S. total - including 6,400 in the past day.
Faced with an infection rate that is five times that of the rest of the country, health workers are putting themselves at risk to fight a tide of sickness thats getting worse by the day amid a shortage of needed supplies and promises of help from the federal government that have yet to fully materialize
One hospital in Queens saw 13 patients die in the space of 24 hours, NYC Health + Hospitals spokesperson Christopher Miller told WNBC.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says Elmhurst Hospital is "holding its own" but is in "race against time", and needs immediate help amid COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Yesterday, de Blasio cautioned around half of all New Yorkers may get coronavirus.
"We are concerned about how many people are contracting the disease. I mean, I've been honest with New Yorkers – probably before this is over, half of all New Yorkers, if not more, will contract this disease," de Blasio told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned hospitals may be soon overwhelmed and, together with de Blasio, asked for additional masks, ventilators and medical supplies as the city prepares for a massive increase in COVID-19 cases in already tight hospital quarters.
About 15 percent of cases in the state require hospitalization, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Based on the large number of hospitalized patients on ventilators, the number of deaths is expected to continue to increase, Cuomo said.
The US is now third globally in terms of the number of people infected by the virus - behind only China and Italy - and has seen at least 1,070 deaths.
MOST READ IN NEWS
The World Health Organization echoed similar thoughts, saying it was seeing a "very large acceleration" in coronavirus infections in the United States which had the potential of becoming the new epicenter.
Over the past 24 hours, 85 per cent of new cases were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters.
Of those, 40 per cent were from the United States.
By Thursday, the total coronavirus deaths in the U.S. skyrocketed past 1,000, with more than 200 deaths confirmed for the first time in a 24-hour period.
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