Monday, the USNS Mercy will set sail from Naval Base San Diego to Los Angeles with 1,128 active duty sailors and 58 volunteer reservists onboard to staff the floating 1,000-bed hospital. It is expected to arrive in Los Angeles within the week.
While the Mercy is being deployed as part of America's response to the COVID-19, just like the USNS Comfort deploying to New York City, the hospital ship will not treat those afflicted with the virus. The ship will help alleviate the stress likely to be put on local hospitals by the influx of coronavirus patients.
"This will allow local health professionals to focus on treating COVID-19 patients and for shore-based hospitals to use their Intensive Care Units and ventilators for those patients," a Navy press release reads.
"Our capabilities are focused on trauma so whether it is our field hospitals or hospital ships they are focused on trauma. They don't have the space, the segregated space, you need to deal with infectious diseases," explained Defense Secretary Mark Esper during a press conference last week.
The USNS Mercy has the mission of providing medical support to the United States military, but its secondary mission is to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
With a limited number of ICU beds and ventilators in hospitals, the presence of the Mercy in Los Angeles will free up hundreds of beds for those infected with the virus while providing much needed medical relief for the city.
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