US Navy hospital ship will see patients from Philadelphia area amid coronavirus pandemic

A view of the USNS Comfort at the Pier 90 on April 1, 2020 in New York City. The Comfort, a naval hospital ship, is equipped to take in patients within 24 hours but will not be treating patients with COVID-19. The ship's 1,000 beds and 12 operation rooms will help ease the pressure on New York hospitals, many of which are now overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Nancy Rivera | Bauer-Griffin | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon announced Thursday that it will begin to receive patients from the greater Philadelphia area on the USNS Comfort hospital ship amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"In anticipation of medical support needed in the greater Philadelphia area, the USNS Comfort is prepared to admit patients within a one-hour traveling radius from the ship," according to a statement by Northern Command, the Pentagon's lead for Covid-19 operations in the United States.

The Pentagon deployed the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy hospital ships in March to help with the surging coronavirus cases.

The USNS Comfort, which arrived in New York City on March 30, from its home port in Norfolk, Virginia, received its first patient earlier this month. The hospital ship was transitioned to receive coronavirus patients and has a maximum capacity of 500 beds.

A sailor dons personal protective equipment before entering the intensive care unit to treat patients aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort.
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman | US Navy

The USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort are equipped with 12 operating rooms, a blood bank, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab and a CT scanner. Each has 15 patient wards, 80 ICU beds and 10 elevators to transfer patients between decks. 

The twin vessels may deploy to other coastal cities, such as New Orleans, as coronavirus cases around the nation rise.

USNS Comfort hospital ship arrives in New York City
USNS Comfort hospital ship arrives in New York City