With rooms and resources running out at healthcare facilities across L.A., a U.S. Navy hospital ship has arrived to help in the battle against the coronavirus.
The USNS Mercy arrived at the Port of Los Angeles Friday, carrying 1,000 beds, a crew of 800, 12 operating rooms, labs, pharmacy, and radiological equipment, making it the biggest hospital in L.A, KTLA reports.
The much-needed additional facilities and personnel will not be used to treat coronavirus patients. Instead, the Mercy will relieve area medical centers of non-COVID-19 patients so that hospitals can give more attention to treating and isolating those infected.
“This is not intended to be a service site or a hospital site that you would come to for an emerging medical need or in the event of a medical emergency,” Port of L.A. Police Chief Tom Gazsi said at a press conference Thursday. “Please respond to your local hospitals where you can receive medical treatment as you would under normal circumstances.”
Along with the Mercy, which left San Diego for L.A. Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the federal government is also dispatching eight medical field units into California to provide thousands of additional beds, while the state is spending $30 million to lease Seton Medical Center in Daly City and St. Vincent Medical Center in Westlake.
Still, these measures may not fulfill L.A.’s ultimate needs in the COVID-19 emergency. The number of cases statewide had surpassed 4,000 on Friday, while in L.A. confirmed cases jumped from 799 to 1,216 between Wednesday and Thursday, with 21 dead across the county.
At a press conference Thursday, Mayor Eric Garcetti warned, “If this rate of increase continues, in six days we will be where New York is today, the same number of cases per capita as they are struggling through.”