Business_news The US Navy is preparing 2 fully-equipped hospital ships to help fight coronavirus ‘trauma’ cases

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  • The US Navy is preparing its hospital ships to possibly deploy to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the hardest-hit communities in the country.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed he ordered the Navy to “lean forward” in deploying two of its hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy.
  • The two ships will specifically focus on trauma cases if deployed, given the limited amount of space aboard the ships, Esper said.
  • Visit business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Navy is preparing its hospital ships to possibly deploy to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the hardest-hit communities in the country.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed he ordered the Navy to “lean forward” in deploying two of its hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, during a press conference on Tuesday.

The Comfort, based in the East Coast at Norfolk, Virginia, is currently undergoing maintenance; while the Mercy is at port in San Diego, California.

The two ships will specifically focus on trauma cases if deployed, given the limited amount of space aboard the ships, Esper said.

“Our capabilities are focused on trauma,” Esper said at the Pentagon. “Whether it’s our field hospitals, whether it’s our hospital ships … they don’t have necessarily the segregated space as you need to deal with infectious diseases.”

“One of the ways by which you can use either field hospitals, hospital ships, or things in between, is to take the pressure off of civilian hospitals when it comes to trauma cases, and open up civilian hospital rooms for infectious diseases,” he added.

Most of the medical staff for the Comfort is based at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Virginia. The ship has made several deployments since 1987,  including to Puerto Rico for relief efforts after Hurricane Maria in 2017. 

The ships are staffed by 71 civilians and up to 1,200 sailors, according to theNavy. Both ships include 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000-bed hospital, medical laboratory, and a pharmacy. The ships also have helicopter decks for transport.

The Defense Department said there were 18 US servicemembers who tested positive as of Monday. Over 5,800 coronavirus cases were reported in the US as of Tuesday afternoon. Over 95 people have died in the country.

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