Coronavirus updates: Navy hospital ship is heading to New York Harbor

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that President Trump agreed to send a Navy hospital ship to New York Harbor, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb. The ship, USNS Comfort, holds about 1,000 rooms, including operating rooms, according to the governor.

“It’s an extraordinary step, obviously, but it will be a – it’s literally a floating hospital – it will add capacity, and the president said he would dispatch that immediately,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

President Trump later confirmed the news at a Coronavirus Task Force briefing and said a second ship, Mercy, will head to the West Coast. The USNS Comfort was also sent to New York after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

At least 125 deaths were linked to the virus in the U.S. The global death toll is over 7,950.

As the president and members of the task force spoke, trading was halted for the fourth time this month as stocks plunged again amid the pandemic. The president announced he will invoke the Defense Production Act, which will speed up and expand the supply of resources from the country’s industrial base, particularly to increase the production of medical supplies and equipment. It’s a move that has been under discussion in recent days and weeks, as the country lacks a sufficient number of ventilators, masks and other critical items needed to meet the coming demand.

The federal government is working on a $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package to try and rescue the U.S. economy from the abyss opened by the coronavirus pandemic.

France, Belgium, and even San Francisco have followed Italy’s example, ordering all residents to stay home for all but essential outings. Officials in New York are clearly debating a lockdown for America’s biggest city, too, but for most Americans, it remains just a stern recommendation.

“Stay at home as much as possible, limit the spread,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Tuesday, reiterating the Trump administration’s appeal for people nationwide to avoid unnecessary travel and all gatherings. “We do not want to look like Italy does two weeks from now.”

There are signs Italy’s national lockdown is starting to slow the spread of the disease, but the strict measures came too late to prevent a disaster. COVID-19 has killed more than 2,500 people in the country. Hospitals, doctors and nurses have been pushed beyond capacity.

Experts agree the U.S. is about to see a significant increase in cases. As that daunting challenge looms, medical workers on the front lines are facing dangerous shortages of life-saving equipment, and many fear for their own safety.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for detailed information on coronavirus treatment and prevention.

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