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Trump approves Cuomo's request to have COVID-19 patients treated on hospital ship USNS Comfort

President Donald Trump has approved New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request to treat COVID-19 patients on the the Navy hospital ship the UNS Comfort docked in Manhattan. 

Cuomo had told reporters on Monday that he was ‘going to call the president this afternoon and ask him to shift the USNS Comfort from non-COVID to COVID’.

In New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in US, the number of cases continue to skyrocket and hospitals are scrambling to keep up with the demand.

According to the chair of the New York City Council Health Committee, the death toll is actually even higher than reported because not all of the dead are being tested for the virus amid a shortage of kits. 

Hours after Cuomo’s interview, Trump confirmed that he spoke with the governor and agreed to use the ship, originally intended to take in non-COVID patients from overwhelmed hospitals, for coronavirus patients.   

Cuomo had told reporters on Monday that he was 'going to call the president this afternoon and ask him to shift the USNS Comfort from non-COVID to COVID'.

President Donald Trump announced Monday he has approved New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's request to treat COVID-19 patients on the the Navy hospital ship the UNS Comfort docked in Manhattan

President Donald Trump announced Monday he has approved New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request to treat COVID-19 patients on the the Navy hospital ship the UNS Comfort docked in Manhattan

The USNS Comfort arrived in New York City on March 30 to take in non COVID-19 patients to alleviate the burden of New York and area hospitals . The ship pictured docked at Pier 90 on Manhattan's Upper West Side on April 3

The USNS Comfort arrived in New York City on March 30 to take in non COVID-19 patients to alleviate the burden of New York and area hospitals . The ship pictured docked at Pier 90 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on April 3

‘We hadn’t had that in mind at all, but we’re going to let him do it,’ Trump said Monday. 

‘It’s set for Covid,’ the president said, adding that the ship has been approved to treat New Jersey patients as well.   

The USNS Comfort, a beacon of hope for the East Coast, arrived in New York City on March 30. 

‘That was not supposed to be for the virus at all and under circumstances, it looks like more and more we’ll be using it for that,’ Trump said Sunday. ‘The ship is ready and if we need it for the virus, we’ll use it for that.’

Despite Trump’s announcement Monday, Joint Staff Surgeon Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the top medical doctor for the military, said the ship was already treating coronavirus patients.

'That was not supposed to be for the virus at all and under circumstances, it looks like more and more we'll be using it for that,' Trump said Sunday. 'The ship is ready and if we need it for the virus, we'll use it for that.'

‘That was not supposed to be for the virus at all and under circumstances, it looks like more and more we’ll be using it for that,’ Trump said Sunday. ‘The ship is ready and if we need it for the virus, we’ll use it for that.’

However the military's top doctor says that the Comfort has already begun to treat coronavirus patients, prior to Trump's announcement

However the military’s top doctor says that the Comfort has already begun to treat coronavirus patients, prior to Trump’s announcement

He stated: ‘Our commitment has been that if a patient comes to us, we would take care of them.’

‘Have we had patients who ultimately were determined to have coronavirus on the hospital ships? Yes. And we’re taking care of them, just like we’re taking care of all the other patients going forward,’ Friedrichs added. 

So far the Comfort has treated fewer than five coronavirus patients, a defense official said to CNN.

In total the Comfort has treated 41 patients.

The ship has come under fire for seeing so few patients despite the dire need for medical experts to combat the coronavirus outbreak on the shore.  

Despite the drastic demand, there are currently some 1,200 crew aboard the USNS Comfort who are idle, with a lack of patients due to the strict protocols in place that has seen them refuse to take certain medical conditions. 

The ship was initially refusing coronavirus patients and had a list of 49 other medical  conditions they would not treat on board, but did not disclose what those were.  

As reported by the New York Times, an outbreak on board the Comfort would be disastrous and would quickly spread, cutting off the ship’s operations.

All crew are required to stay on board through the duration of the mission to New York and were forced to go into a 14-day isolation before it began to ensure they had no symptoms.

In the Big Apple the number of cases has soared to 72,181 and 3,485 deaths. 

According to the chair of the New York City Council Health Committee Mark D. Levine, the death toll is much greater than reported because not all of the dead entering the city's morgues were tested for the virus prior to their passing

According to the chair of the New York City Council Health Committee Mark D. Levine, the death toll is much greater than reported because not all of the dead entering the city’s morgues were tested for the virus prior to their passing

According to the chair of the New York City Council Health Committee Mark D. Levine, the death toll is much greater than reported because not all of the dead entering the city’s morgues were tested for the virus prior to their passing. 

‘Early on in this crisis we were able to swab people who died at home, and thus got a coronavirus reading. But those days are long gone. We simply don’t have the testing capacity for the large numbers dying at home,’ he noted.

‘Now only those few who had a test confirmation *before* dying are marked as victims of coronavirus on their death certificate. This almost certainly means we are undercounting the total number of victims of this pandemic,’  Levine added.

‘And still the number of bodies continues to increase. The freezers at OCME facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn will soon be full. And then what?’

‘To recap: Nothing matters more in this crisis than saving the living. But we need to face the gruesome reality that we need more resources to manage our dead as well. Or the pain of this crisis will be compounded almost beyond comprehension,’ he added.  

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Written by Angle News

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