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  • Jason Tuvia

As Coronavirus Cases Swell in Los Angeles, US Naval Ship Becomes a Makeshift Hospital

USNS Mercy to Remain Docked Until At Least Sept. 1

The USNS Mercy, a 65,000-ton steel behemoth naval ship, is now docked in the Port of Los Angeles, where it’ll remain for at least the next five months. Its mission? To offer up its 1,000 hospital beds and operating rooms to Los Angeles, which is anticipating a skyrocketing demand for beds as number of coronavirus cases in the region grows.

The 894-foot ship is meant to house Los Angeles’ non-coronavirus patients, freeing up the city’s hospitals to care for coronavirus patients. As of Friday afternoon within hours of its docking, there were 1,465 cases of the coronavirus and 26 coronavirus-related deaths in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The ship comes as Los Angeles and cities nationwide prepare for the increasing number of coronavirus cases to strain medical and first responder systems. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said the city is looking at options including the downtown convention center and even entertainment production stages in its search for space to accommodate demand created by coronavirus.

Hospitals and medical providers nationwide have been quickly snapping up available spaces ranging from empty hotels to convention centers and building field hospitals to try to get ahead of what is expected to be an exponential wave of new COVID-19 cases in coming weeks. Another Naval ship, the USNS Comfort, is scheduled to dock in New York City, where there are approximately 40,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. So far, officials say 430 people have died in New York state from the coronavirus; 365 of those deaths were in New York City.

Earlier this week, San Diego County officials secured 1,300 rooms in at least 10 local hotels to quarantine homeless people and others who might come down with serious symptoms of coronavirus. The properties were not specified.

On March 19, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered state residents to stay at home unless it's absolutely essential to leave. Newson’s orders came the same day Newsom warned that more than half the state's 40 million residents, or roughly 25.5 million people, could eventually become infected by the virus.

Since then, nearly a third of U.S. states have followed suit.

As of Friday afternoon, the World Health Organization reported more than 509,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 23,000 deaths in 201 countries or territories. In the United States, there have been more than 85,000 confirmed cases with 991 deaths.

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