The hospital ship USNS Comfort docked in New York Monday morning to help take some pressure of the city’s hospitals and medical works, stretched thin by the relentless spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The arrival of the 1,000-bed ship caused a stir on Manhattan’s West Side, as large crowds swarmed the fence at Pier 90 to watch the ship come in — so many, in fact, that police finally had to step in and urge the growing throngs to disperse.
But that didn’t happen until NYPD got a nudge from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office after local media tweeted images showing people ignoring social media distance guidelines, the New York Post reported.
This is incredibly counterproductive. People gathered to watch the US Navy hospital ship dock in New York City.
Stay home. Practice social distancing. pic.twitter.com/SOWsdUaOgo
— Alexis Benveniste 🏡 (@apbenven) March 30, 2020
“The pictures made me realize it was happening, and I reported it to detail who got involved,” City Hall spokesperson Freddi Goldstein said.
— Andrew Siff (@andrewsiff4NY) March 30, 2020
“This is a new reality for all of us and we’re all adjusting. The mayor and the police commissioner are in regular contact to make sure our officers understand this new ask of them, as well,” she said.
Police said they merely urged the gathered to move along and issued no tickets.
Today @USCG units from around the region, joined by @FDNY @NYPDSpecialops provided a security escort for @USNSComfort arrival into #NYC, ensuring a safe transit for the 70K-ton hospital ship here to assist in the response to #COVID19.@nycgov @NYGovCuomo#CoastGuard2020 @USNavy pic.twitter.com/yRwDQMXbAM
— USCG_Tri_State (@USCG_Tri_State) March 30, 2020
In addition to the arrival of the Comfort, New York City opened a 1,000-bed temporary hospital at Javits Center on Monday, the state said.
#NYPD Harbor and Aviation escort the @USNavy USNS Comfort as it enters New York Harbor. Docking at Manhattan's Pier 90, the ship will be helping #NYC and the Nation by providing much needed additional medical care. @NYPDnews #NationalDoctorsDay pic.twitter.com/nMgH3InUv4
— NYPD Special Ops (@NYPDSpecialops) March 30, 2020
Also on Monday, Gov Andrew Cuomo said three new sites in Staten Island, the Bronx, and Ulster County will add 695 more emergency beds, and the federal government has approved four additional sites for temporary hospitals. Those news sites at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the Aqueduct Racetrack facility in Queens, CUNY Staten Island, and the New York Expo Center in the Bronx will provide 4,000 more beds.
Late Monday afternoon, total coronavirus cases in the city had topped 38,000 — more than half the state’s 66,497. More than 1,200 have died in the state, 914 of them in New York City, the New York Times reported.
On Friday, the Comfort’s sister ship, USNS Mercy, arrived in Los Angeles, the Department of Defense said.
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[Featured image: USNS Comfort arrives in New York/US Coast Guard]