The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) will return to Naval Station Norfolk on May 2 after supporting the Department of Defense response efforts to New York and New Jersey during the coronavirus outbreak.
Upon arrival at Naval Station Norfolk, Comfort will return to a “Ready 5” status to remain ready for future tasking for COVID-19 operations in support of FEMA.
Comfort spent 31 days at Pier 90 in New York City, providing relief to a healthcare system stressed by the surge of COVID-19 patients.
The ship, which arrived in New York City March 30, was originally tasked with providing care to non-COVID patients, bringing the first aboard on April 1. It quickly became apparent that in order to be of help to the city, Comfort needed to treat all patients, regardless of their COVID status. On April 6, the ship began accepting COVID-positive patients following a thorough assessment of the existing design of the ship. Military Sealift Command civil service mariners physically separated the hospital from the rest of the ship by cordoning off doors and ladder wells on the main deck, reconfiguring the ship to admit and treat all patients.
During the transit from New York City to Norfolk, VA all personnel involved in the mission aboard USNS Comfort will be tested for COVID-19, and will execute a 14-day restriction of movement (ROM) following completion of the mission. The purpose of the ROM is to separate personnel who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but are not yet symptomatic, from personnel who have not been exposed. As part of this ROM they will be isolated by either remaining on the USNS Comfort, in their own homes, or in other lodging accommodations where their movement will be restricted to their immediate area. Personnel will also be tested for COVID-19 a second time at the end of their 14-day ROM period.