USNS Mercy leaves Los Angeles after treating 77 patients

The Navy’s USNS Mercy hospital ship on Friday left Los Angeles after treating several dozen patients since being docked at the city port since March.

The 1,000-bed ship, which will return to its home port in San Diego, had arrived in Los Angeles on March 27 in an effort to relieve local hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic by taking on patients not infected with COVID-19.

Video of the ship leaving on Friday morning flooded social media channels.

The Mercy, which treated just 77 individuals, scaled back its mission when it stopped receiving patients on April 30 at the direction of FEMA and U.S. Northern Command and discharged its last patient on May 5, according to the command.

Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the California Office of Emergency Services, said in a statement that having the Mercy in LA “was critical to our ability to respond in the first stages of the pandemic.”

The office noted that the vessel will leave behind 60 medical personnel to support California’s response to the pandemic, including 40 medical staffers and five-member medical support teams “to be deployed as needed within the region.”

Another of the Navy’s two hospital ships, the USNS Comfort, was sent to New York City to treat non-coronavirus patients. However, after treating only a few dozen patients, the Comfort changed its rules to allow coronavirus-positive patients on the ship.

The Comfort had been docked in New York Harbor in Manhattan since March 30 but departed last month for its Norfolk, Va., home port after treating just 182 patients.

Both ships were designated to remain non-coronavirus zones, with protocols in place to test patients and staffers. But at least seven crew members on the Mercy and at least one crew member on the Comfort tested positive for the illness.

Tags Coronavirus USNS Mercy

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