News and Commentary

Feds Tell California USNS Mercy Hospital Ship Unavailable To Help L.A.
Tugboats guide the USNS Mercy hospital ship to moor at the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2020.
Tim Rue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the California Health and Human Services Agency have asked the federal government to provide more than 500 additional medical personnel to staff hospitals and nursing homes strained by the COVID-19 wave that has hit the state.

According to Cal OES, “the request comes after the federal government notified that State that the USNS Mercy Hospital ship is now under mandatory maintenance, in dry dock, and not available for deployment.”

A spokesperson for the ship’s command reportedly said USNS Mercy was “in the shipyard for an extended maintenance period for the next few months,” adding, “It’s pretty much impossible to get it underway.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, an influential Democrat, had asked Gov. Gavin Newsom last week to call on federal partners to bring the 1000-bed ship back to the Port of L.A. to relieve overwhelmed hospitals in the region.

Jonathan Gudel, a Cal OES spokesman, said on Tuesday that state officials and Gov. Newsom “have remained in close coordination with the White House” requesting federal agencies send help “immediately.” He said they were asking for “medical personnel equivalent to the staff that would have been on the USNS Mercy, and then some.”

State officials want 360 medical personnel from the US Department of Defense (DoD), 135 US Health and Human Services (USHHS) Disaster Medical Assistance Team personnel, and an additional 50 specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Those additions would supplement 1,420 medical workers the state has already deployed to facilities in need.

“Bringing additional medical staff into the state will allow us to save lives and ensure our hospitals systems are not overstretched,” Gov. Newsom said. “Now is the time to use every resource at our disposal to fight the spread of this virus to protect Californians.”

As The Daily Wire previously reported, USNS Mercy briefly docked at the Port of L.A. in March. It was one of several medical field stations established by the state in preparation for an expected COVID-19 surge that Newsom said would require an additional 50,000 hospital beds.

The ship was staffed by more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support members and meant to treat trauma patients, allowing shore-based hospitals to concentrate on people who would fall ill with coronavirus.

However, area hospitals were not overwhelmed, and the expected wave of sick people never materialized. Mercy’s crew only treated 77 patients in nearly seven weeks, and the ship departed on May 15.

The Orange County Register reports:

If the Mercy were to be deployed, it would have to make it’s way back from the shipyard to its home port in San Diego with a skeleton crew of civilian mariners. There it would get it ready for its mission.

When the Mercy was deployed to the Port of Los Angeles in March, it took five days to assemble the supplies, medicines, equipment and medical personnel.

Typically, when the Mercy is dockside in San Diego, there is a civilian mariners crew to run the ship’s daily maintenance and a handful of Navy medical personnel who handle medications and equipment to make sure everything is operational should a mission arise.

According to The Register, “If the Mercy is called for service, reservists and active-duty Naval medical personnel are assembled from locations across the country.”

Related: California Democrat Asks Newsom To Bring U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Back To Port Of L.A. To Relieve SEIU Workers

Related: Los Angeles Surge Hospital That Treated COVID-19 Patients Now Appears To Be Site Of Full-Scale Hollywood Production

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Feds Tell California USNS Mercy Hospital Ship Unavailable To Help L.A.