A crew member aboard the USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital ship that is caring for patients in New York Harbor, has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, a Navy spokesperson confirmed.
“The crewmember is isolated from patients and other crew members,” the Navy said in a statement obtained by HuffPost. “There is no impact to Comfort’s mission, and this will not affect the ability for Comfort to receive patients. The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board.”
The crew member had not been in contact with patients on the ship, and any crew member that had contact with the infected person has tested negative for the virus. Out of precaution, anyone who was in contact with the crew member will be in isolation for several days, the Navy said.
News of the diagnosis, first reported by ABC News, came hours after President Donald Trump announced Monday that the ship, which is equipped with 1,000 beds, will start treating COVID-19 patients. The ship had initially traveled to New York City to help patients with unrelated issues in an effort to provide relief to overburdened hospitals.
The decision to accept COVID-19 patients was based on feedback on what was best for the area, said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander U.S. Second Fleet.
“Taking on more patients as quickly as possible is critical to helping the city of New York during this pandemic crisis,” Lewis said. “We listened to the feedback from area health professionals and the community and believe this is the best way we can help our fellow Americans.”
A second Naval hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, is continuing to treat non-COVID-19 cases while stationed at the Port of Los Angeles in California.
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