The USNS Comfort arrived March 30 at the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, bringing a message of hope and comfort to New Yorkers and all Americans in the midst of the pandemic.
The Navy hospital ship, which contains 1,000 beds, a dozen operating rooms, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy and more, sailed into New York City harbor for the first time since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
It is staffed by a crew of 1,200 and was scheduled to “serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals,” freeing up space in those facilities for local medical professionals to tackle the growing pandemic. It ended up serving COVID-19 patients as well.
“Not all of our nation’s heroes wear military uniforms,” Rear Adm. John Mustin noted.
“Especially today, we acknowledge that many wear scrubs. Let us not forget – nor fail to recognize – that the doctors and nurses across America, those who are treating patients in these unprecedented times, they are all heroes,” Mustin said after the Comfort docked at Manhattan’s Pier 90.
“As a resident New Yorker myself, I can attest to the invincible spirit of New York,” he said. “From the ships that she built in World War II to her unflappable determination following 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, I have great confidence that New York will weather today’s storm as well.”
“If there is ever a time that we need to work together it is today,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added. “The president is right – this is a war. And what does this nation do when it’s at war? It comes together and it acts as one.”
“I’ve been speaking with a number of my colleagues, governors all across the nation, Democrats and Republicans – I’ve said the same message to all of them. What you see happening in New York is not unique,” he continued. “Yes, we are more dense. Yes, we are bigger than most places, but, this virus spreads among Americans. This virus does not discriminate. It does not discriminate by age, it does not discriminate by party, it infects all Americans. And what you are seeing in New York is going to spread across this country.”
“I’ve said to them all ‘prepare soon, prepare early, get your preparations in place and don’t think that any American is immune from this virus,” he added.
As the virus affects every state in the Union, Americans everywhere are stepping forward, remembering that we are the UNITED states, and seeking to offer comfort and hope to each other as the nation works its way through this current storm.