USNS Comfort set to return to Hampton Roads Thursday

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The Navy hospital ship sent to relieve stressed New York City hospitals as coronavirus cases surged is set to leave this week and return to its homeport in Virginia, the U.S. Navy said.

The USNS Comfort will set sail for Norfolk on Thursday, officials said in a statement Tuesday.

The ship docked in Manhattan on March 30, and while it was originally deployed to care for non-coronavirus patients, by April 6 it had begun accepting those with the virus as the city’s hospitals continued to crowd.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that the ship was no longer needed as stresses on the hospital system appeared to be easing. As of Saturday, the 1,000-bed hospital ship had treated 182 patients. The last patients were discharged this week, according to the Navy.

Once in Norfolk, the ship will restock and remain ready for possible future deployments, officials said.

The ship was crewed by civilian mariners and a majority of its medical staff was based at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth.

Officials did not say where the staff would go upon the ship’s return.

Originally deployed to New York City 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.

The Comfort came with 12 fully equipped operating rooms and up to 1,200 doctors, nurses and medical specialists.

The Navy said Comfort has an array of medical equipment and services, including digital radiology, medical and optometry labs, a pharmacy, a CAT scanner and two oxygen-producing plants.

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