DOD On USNS Comfort Departing NY: ‘Expectations were far worse…than what we’ve seen’

200423-N-OM642-1022 NEW YORK (April 23, 2020) Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kossi Fandoumi is a dental technician aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). Comfort cares for critical and non-critical patients without regard to their COVID-19 status. Comfort is working with Javits New York Medical Station as an integrated system to relieve the New York City medical system, in support of U.S. Northern Command’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Keen/Released)

The US Navy Ship Comfort will be departing New York City after President Donald Trump deployed the ship at the request of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio nearly three and a half weeks ago Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, told reporters Friday.

Moreover, although he didn’t provide exact numbers on the matter, Hoffman said that the “expectations were far worse… than what we’ve seen.” For that reason, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio are returning this ship to DOD’s Northern Command.

“If you look at a city like New York, the expectations were a far worse situation than what we’ve seen,” he said addressing questions of whether deploying Comfort was a waste of DOD resources. “Having our forces and having our people forward deploy with that capability and not needing it was far better than not having them there and needing it.”

The Defense Department, Hoffman said, will be consulting FEMA to pinpoint the vessel’s next deployment location and to expect a decision on the matter in the “coming days.”

“We expect the Comfort will be heading back to Norfolk, where it will go through kind of the normal post-deployment cycle, where we will restock it. It will be just prepared for the next deployment,” Hoffman said.

“We have said from the start… we wanted to be very careful with our deployment of those assets because we wanted to ensure that they are mobile, that they can be used somewhere else. So our goal all along has been to use them in New York as needed and then when the need no longer exists, to prepare them to move to the next location,” He added.

The ship holds over 1,000 medical care workers and has the capacity of 500 beds, which Hoffman indicated that the number of patients never hit that number, but that there were a “fair number” of patients cared for on the ship. As of last Friday, 71 of its 500 beds were occupied, CNBC reported.

There are currently 146,139 people infected with the coronavirus in New York and 10,746 have died from the virus statewide.