LA County Supervisor Requests USNS Mercy Return To Los Angeles After COVID-19 Surge

December 31, 2020 3:07 PM
USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) departs Los Angeles on May 15, 2020. US Navy Photo

A Los Angeles County supervisor is appealing to California’s governor to request a Navy hospital ship return to the city’s port to help hospitals battling COVID-19.

In a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, LA County’s fourth district Supervisor Janice Hahn said hospitals in Los Angeles are reaching a “breaking point” due to the amount of coronavirus cases and asked Newsom to request hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) come to the city’s port.

“We must continue to do everything within our power to fully support our health care providers as they battle this pandemic on the front line inside our hospitals. I also ask that you call on our federal partners to bring back the USNS Mercy with accompanying medical staff to the Port of Los Angeles. Emergency departments throughout LA County are overwhelmed and cannot take in all patients in need of urgent care,” Hahn wrote in the letter.

“The USNS Mercy can add more emergency care capacity for patients not suffering from COVID-19 related health complications,” she continued. “This will in turn alleviate the burden on hospitals, so they can focus on severely ill COVID-19 patients.”

By Monday, 7,415 individuals in Los Angeles County were in the hospital with COVID-19, according to the county’s Twitter page. LA County encouraged its residents to remain home on New Year’s Eve to prevent the surge in cases from worsening.

“Our public health experts warn that the worst is yet to come with the anticipated incoming Christmas and New Year’s holiday surge, so I urge you to act now and equip our hospitals with additional healthcare workers and resources to save as many lives as possible,” Hahn wrote in the letter to Newsom.

The Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hahn’s request.

Mercy left Los Angeles in mid-May after treating just 77 patients, partly due to challenges associated with the hospital-to-hospital transfer system put in place that would take COVID-negative patients from area hospitals and transport them to Mercy for treatment. The hospital ship first arrived in the World Cruise Center Terminal in the Port of Los Angeles on March 27 to help reduce the burden on hospitals at the beginning of the pandemic.

Mercy is homeported in Naval Station San Diego, Calif.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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