Coronavirus in US: Last patient on USNS Comfort in New York expected to be discharged today

NEW YORK -- The Navy hospital ship sent to relieve stress on New York City hospitals at the height the pandemic is discharging or transferring its last 12 patients this weekend as it nears the end of its mission, according to Northwell Health, which provides operational assistance to the vessel.

The USNS Comfort, docked at a Manhattan pier since March 30, will soon leave for its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, where it will restock and be readied for another possible assignment, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. He did not provide a date for the ship's departure.

As of Saturday, the 1,000-bed hospital ship had treated just 182 patients. There was just one patient left on the ship late Saturday evening.

Originally deployed to care for patients without coronavirus, the Comfort switched gears and started accepting them as the city's hospitals became overrun with people suffering from the disease.

Hoffman said the Comfort's impending departure "is a sure sign of modest progress in mitigating the virus in the nation's hardest hit city and is a welcome sign."

A temporary hospital set up at a Manhattan convention center has also seen lower than projected patient volume. As of Saturday, the facility had treated a total of about 1,100 patients, with 125 still receiving care.

First envisioned as a 2,500-bed field hospital for people without the disease, the Javits Center was soon converted to a coronavirus-only hospital, but only ever topped out at about 500 beds.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Saturday that there is no official date for the closure of the facility.

"We are encouraged by the data which suggest the curve is flattening in New York and we are working with the city and state to begin the strategic drawdown of resources," the agency said.
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