US Navy hospital ship Mercy arrives at Port of Los Angeles to aid COVID-19 response


Nurses leave Elmhurst Hospital Center where COVID-19 testing continues outside, Friday, March 27, 2020, in New York. (Photo: AP)

LOS ANGELES, March 27 (Xinhua) -- The US Navy hospital ship Mercy arrived at the Port of Los Angeles Friday morning to aid COVID-19 response as the number of new confirmed cases continued to surge in the metropolitan area.

The ship, carrying more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff, will provide 1,000 hospital beds as a "referral hospital" to treat non-COVID-19 patients. It will help relieve the strain being put on local hospitals by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mercy also has 11 general-purpose operating suites, a 5,000-unit blood bank, 15 patient wards and room for 80 intensive care beds, according to the ship's official website. It can produce at least 7,000 meals and 200,000 gallons of freshwater daily.

Mercy, homeported in San Diego, is one of the two hospital ships operated by US navy. The ship had initially been scheduled to bound for Seattle, Washington state which is also one of the states hit the hardest by the spread of COVID-19. US officials changed plan later because they projected more needs for beds in California. US President Donald Trump approved California Governor Gavin Newsom's request on Sunday to deploy the ship to Los Angeles to provide additional medical support.

Newsom's office posted a video Thursday morning which shows the huge white-hulled hospital ship docking at the Port of Los Angeles on Twitter, noting that the ship will increase California's hospital capacity during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Glad to welcome the @USNavy's USNS Mercy to Los Angeles. This ship brings 1,000 new medical beds to the @PortofLA, helping ease the burden on our emergency rooms and ICUs when the cases of COVID-19 grow in the weeks ahead," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, tweeted Friday morning.

"Thank you to all our partners for making this possible," he added.

There are more than 4,200 positive cases and 85 deaths related to COVID-19 in California so far, according to a continuous Los Angeles Times survey of numbers released by local health agencies across the state.

The COVID-19 death toll in Los Angeles County nearly doubled on Thursday, reaching a total of 21, while another 421 cases were confirmed for a total of 1,216 as of Thursday night, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.