- The US Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, which is docked off the coast of Manhattan, may soon receive coronavirus patients.
- The 1,000-bed ship was dispatched to New York last month to relieve other health care providers in treating patients with COVID-19.
- But the ship had only filled about 2% of its beds last week.
- At a press conference at the White House on Sunday, Trump said the ship would be used to treat coronavirus patients when needed.
- "Under no circumstances should it be about the virus," Trump said of the ship. "But it looks like we're using it more and more for it."
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
President Donald Trump said Sunday evening that the US Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, currently docked off the coast of Manhattan, can be used to treat coronavirus patients "when we need it".
The 1,000-bed ship was dispatched to New York last month to help health care providers treat patients with COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
But days after the ship's arrival, only 20 patients were treated, The New York Times reported on Thursday – approx. 2% of the ship's capacity.
The military has attempted to lift restrictions on the treatment of patients on the ship so that it can be used more, and the Department of Defense announced on Friday that the ship will no longer require a patient to be treated with a negative COVID-19 test.
The ship is designed to treat patients with non-coronavirus health problems and is subject to strict on-board treatment guidelines. But Trump seemed to be suggesting that the current strict guidelines may change soon so that the ship can fill its beds.
At a press conference at the White House on Sunday, Trump said the ship would be used to treat coronavirus patients when needed.
"Under no circumstances should it be about the virus," Trump said of the ship. CNN reported. "But it looks like we're using it more and more for it."
New York City has become the epicenter of coronavirus spread on Sunday evening with over 123,000 confirmed cases. The state has also recorded over 4,150 deaths.
New York City hospitals have reported a lack of personal protective equipment, masks and respirators. A doctor described the overwhelming spread of the virus as "apocalyptic".
Hospitals have also been reported to be filled with coronavirus patients, and morgues are crowded with those who died from the disease.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said New York "Proximity makes us vulnerable" to the spread of the disease.
Several major New York landmarks, including Central Park, the Javits Convention Center, and the National Tennis Center, have been redesigned to accommodate field hospitals for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
On Sunday, Trump announced additional relief for New York hospitals, including a delivery of 600,000 N95 masks to New York City and 200,000 N95 masks to Suffolk County on Monday.
The death toll in the city is starting to decrease, although Cuomo said on Sunday that "it is too early to say" which means the meaning of these numbers.