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Gov. Cuomo says NY no longer needs naval hospital USNS Comfort

Coast Guard assets, along with New York Police Department and New York Fire Department assets, provide a security escort for the USNS Comfort arrival into New York Harbor, March 30, 2020. Coast Guard Cutter Shrike, Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak, Maritime Safety and Security Team New York, and crews from Coast Guard Station New York and Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod conducted the escort as the Comfort arrived in New York City to assist in the COVID-19 response. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Q. Hightower)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday afternoon that New York is no longer in need of the supplemental beds provided by the floating naval hospital USNS Comfort.

Cuomo made the announcement during an interview with MSNBC after meeting with President Trump in the White House.

Docked in New York Harbor since March 30, the ship was meant to add 1,000 additional beds to New York’s hospital system as it prepared to deal with the worst of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The President sent up a Navy ship, the Comfort, a hospital ship which was very good to have in case we had overflow but I said we don’t really need the Comfort anymore,” he told MSNBC Anchor Nicolle Wallace. “It did give us comfort but we don’t need it anymore so if they need to deploy it somewhere else they should take it.”

The governor said the ship could be redeployed if need be. Originally, the ship was meant to handle non-coronavirus patients who needed emergency treatment, but that proved to be unnecessary.

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In the first week of April, the ship was reassigned to deal with patients suffering from the coronavirus. At least one crew member tested positive for the virus.

Cuomo headed to the U.S. capital Tuesday following a morning press briefing in Buffalo. He said he was going to speak with the president about the need for more testing and state funding.

As of Tuesday morning, New York had over 250,000 statewide cases, and accounted for more than 40% of the nation’s death toll. However, numbers have been on a steady decline since last week, and Cuomo has said he believes the worst of the outbreak is behind us.

Overall, the governor described a positive meeting with the president, and that the focus remained on the issue of testing.

“The meeting went well and I think it was productive,” he said. “The big issue was testing. As everyone knows, that’s going to be the next step as we go forward and how do we separate the responsibilities and the tasks on testing vis-a-vis the state and the federal government and the acknowledgment that we all need to work together on this.”

He said the federal government needs to have a role ensuring private companies’ testing supply chain is directed to the parts of the country that need it most.

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© 2020 Staten Island Advance