USNS Comfort crew member tests positive for coronavirus

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A crew member aboard the USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital ship docked in New York City, has tested positive for coronavirus, Fox News has confirmed.

The news came after President Trump confirmed the 1,000-bed ship will start treating coronavirus cases after originally being sent to Manhattan to take on cases unrelated to the pathogen.

In a statement obtained by Fox News, the Navy said: “A crewmember on board USNS Comfort tested positive for COVID-19 April 6. The crewmember is isolated from patients and other crewmembers.

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“There is no impact to Comfort’s mission, and this will not affect the ability for Comfort to receive patients. The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board.”

The news was originally reported by ABC News, who reported that the crew member had no contact with patients and other crew members who had contact with them had tested negative for the virus, but they would remain in isolation for several days out of an abundance of caution.

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Earlier Monday, President Trump granted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request that the ship start taking coronavirus cases.

“He [Cuomo] called me up a little while ago and asked if it would be possible to use the ship with respect to fighting the virus,” Trump said at The White House. “We hadn’t had that in mind at all but we’re going to let him do it.

“New Jersey is going to use it as well because New Jersey is also a hot spot,” he added. “It’s a big ship and it’s now COVID, it’s set for COVID and we are going to, hopefully, that will be very helpful to both states.”

NEW YORK CORONAVIRUS DEATHS HAVE BEEN ‘EFFECTIVELY FLAT’ FOR 2 DAYS, CUOMO SAYS

Meanwhile, a New York doctor told Fox News about the difficulty in moving patients out of crowded hospitals to the Comfort.

“I’ve tried without success to transfer some patients down to the Comfort,” the doctor told Fox News.

“It takes a lot to get through the bureaucracy. NYC hospitals have little desire to talk to Navy chains of command to get patients evaluated. I think things are smoothing out, though.

“The Comfort has to assume everyone is infected. About 85% in our ER are positive.”

The doctor did not wish to be identified because he was not authorized to speak with the media.

On Monday, Gov. Cuomo announced that the number of daily coronavirus deaths in New York has now been “effectively flat for two days,” in a sign that the pandemic may be starting to ease its grasp on America’s hardest-hit state.

Cuomo said Monday his state reported 599 new deaths, up from 594 on Sunday but down from 630 on Saturday.

“While none of this is good news, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen,” Cuomo said.

A journalist records speakers at a press briefing following the arrival of the USNS Comfort, a naval hospital ship with a 1,000 bed-capacity, March 30, 2020, at Pier 90 in New York. The ship will be used to treat patients who do not have the new coronavirus as land-based hospitals fill up to capacity with those that do.

A journalist records speakers at a press briefing following the arrival of the USNS Comfort, a naval hospital ship with a 1,000 bed-capacity, March 30, 2020, at Pier 90 in New York. The ship will be used to treat patients who do not have the new coronavirus as land-based hospitals fill up to capacity with those that do. (AP)

The number of new hospitalizations – and new admissions into intensive care units – have also hit their lowest points in more than two weeks. But Cuomo is warning things could still change and there is a “real danger in getting overconfident too quickly.”

“This is an enemy that we have underestimated from day one and we have paid the price dearly,” Cuomo said. “‘Well the numbers look like they may be turning, yay it’s over’ — no it’s not.

“And other places have made that mistake,” he continued, naming Hong Kong and South Korea.

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New York currently is grappling with more than 130,000 confirmed cases and 4,758 deaths.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Greg Norman contributed to this report.

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