Navy Hospital Ship USNS Mercy Deployed to Los Angeles to Help California Hospitals Overwhelmed With Coronavirus Patients

President Donald Trump has approved the deployment of a U.S. Navy hospital shop to Los Angeles in order to assist the state of California as it deals with the coronavirus outbreak.

During a press conference on Sunday, Trump confirmed that the USNS Mercy, a hospital ship that has been docked in San Diego, will be deployed to the port of Los Angeles immediately.

The ship, measuring nearly 900 feet in length, holds around 1,000 hospital beds, including 80 intensive care unit beds.

Mercy's sister ship, USNS Comfort, is also set to be sent to New York in the next few weeks to assist with COVID-19 aid.

"These two ships are incredible," Trump said. "One on the West coast, one on the East coast, will be deployed to Los Angeles to add emergencies, surge medical capacity, and they have a tremendous capacity. They are really something."

Peter Gaynor, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said the decision to send Mercy to Los Angeles instead of Washington, the state hardest hit by the coronavirus, was made as California has a higher demand for hospital beds and it therefore would make the greatest impact there.

"The Department of Defense has been given direction to dispatch it to Los Angeles immediately," Gaynor said. "DoD has advised that Mercy can get into position within a week or less of today's order.

"Even though there are more cases right now in Washington, the projected needs for beds in California is five times more that of Washington.

"Mercy will be used to take pressure off local hospitals, other medical needs and not for treating COVID-19 cases."

Following the announcement, the U.S. Navy posted a video on Facebook showing USNS Mercy being prepared for deployment, adding that shore-based hospitals will soon be able to treat patients using ICU and ventilators ashore.

The U.S. Navy continues preparations to deploy the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response...

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who previously wrote to Trump to plead that he send one of the Navy's hospital ships to the state, expressed his disappointment at the decision to deploy the ship to California but promised he will continue to do everything possible to help stem the spread of the virus.

"While I am very disappointed the USNS Mercy is not coming to WA, I appreciate that federal field hospitals are on the way to help with increased medical needs," Inslee tweeted.
"My staff and I will keep working until we have the resources necessary to care for all Washingtonians."

There are more than 35,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the U.S., the third highest in the world behind China and Italy, according to Johns Hopkins University. There has been a total of 471 deaths as a result of the virus across the country.

USNS mercy
Aerial view of the Hospital ship USNS Mercy docked at Naval Base San Diego on March 20, 2020 in San Diego, California. Sean M. Haffey/Getty

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice:

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
    Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.