A 450-person Navy medical unit has been put on “prepare to deploy” orders to ship out to Texas and New Orleans over the next several days to help aid in COVID-19 relief efforts, U.S. Northern Command announced Monday.
There are 3,540 cases of COVID-19 across Louisiana and 2712 reports of the virus in Texas, according to the New York Times. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order on March 22, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has told Texans to avid social gatherings larger than 10 people.
There are worries that New Orleans is becoming the next epicenter of COVID-19. Edwards warned ventilators could run out by April, according to the New York Times.
“We still remain on the growth curve, the trajectory that we don’t like,”Edwards said, according to the Times.
The orders to prepare to deploy are the latest efforts by U.S. Northern Command to aid in COVID-19 relief efforts to help stem the spread of the virus.
The hospital ship USNS Comfort departed Norfolk, Virginia, Saturday bound for New York. President Donald Trump attended the ship’s departure ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk. The hospital ship is expected to arrive in New York on Monday.
“This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York — a place I know very well, a place I love,” Trump said in Norfolk Saturday.
“We’re here for you, we’re fighting for you, and we are with you all the way, and we always will be. You have the unwavering support of the entire nation, the entire government, and the entire American people,” Trump said.
On the west coast, the hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived in Long Beach, California, Friday and has received its first patients Monday, according to a news release. Both ships have the capacity to aid about 1,000 patients boasting about a dozen operating rooms and 80 intensive care unit beds, according to a release.
NORTHCOM is also deploying three Army hospital units to Washington and New Jersey that are expected to be operational by April 2, a release detailed.
Those units include: the 627th Hospital Center from Ft. Carson, Colorado; 531st Hospital Center from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and the 9th Hospital Center from Ft. Hood, Texas.
The 627th is deploying to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, while the other two Army hospital units are deploying to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to help support efforts in the New York area, a release said.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.