NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The USNS Comfort is making some changes to further alleviate stress on New York City’s hospital system.

The Navy hospital ship will begin screening patients on the pier, the Department of Defense announced Friday. This means ambulances can bring people straight there, bypassing other hospitals.

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The ship is being used to treat those who are not suffering from the coronavirus, so the city’s hospitals can free up beds and focus on COVID-19 patients.

Military leaders and scientists have said it’s risky to use a ship like comfort in a viral environment due to the possibility of rapid spread, reports CBS2’s Alice Gainer.

“The Navy’s position is they don’t want to put COVID people on the ship, because it would be too hard to disinfect,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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Additionally, patients will no longer have to wait for negative test results before they board. They will still be screened by having their temperature taken and completing a short questionnaire.


“We understand that introducing COVID-19 positive patients into the FMS environments elevates the risk of transmission to other patients and our medical providers. This decision was risk-informed and made to ensure that DoD can continue to provide these local communities the type of medical care they most need,” the DoD said in a statement on its website. “Force health protection is a top priority and our medical professionals will have the required personal protective equipment needed for this mission.”

Federal officials announced another change last night, saying the Jacob Javits Convention Center can start accepting coronavirus patients. It was originally designated for non-covid patients, as well.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cuomo says the state will need 70,000 to 110,000 hospital beds when the pandemic reaches its peak in anywhere from seven to 30 days. It currently has about 53,000.

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On Friday, the governor said the Javits Center brings another 2,500 to the table.