Two Navy hospital ships will be part of the Defense Department’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman said.

The USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy are being prepared for deployment “as needed to assist potentially overwhelmed communities with acute patient care,” Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the defense secretary for public affairs, said during a news conference today at the Pentagon. He was joined at the briefing by Air Force Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Paul Friedrichs, the Joint Staff surgeon.

The Comfort is now in Norfolk, Virginia, for maintenance, and the Navy has been asked to expedite that, Hoffman said, adding that it may take “a little while” for that ship to be ready to go. It will go to New York when its maintenance is complete.

The Mercy is on the West Coast and is ready to go in “days, not weeks,” he said, and where it will go will be determined when it’s ready to sail.

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Author: Dian Welle