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New York hospital ship set to return to Virginia on Thursday

April 29, 2020 GMT
In this March 30, 2020 file photo, the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is escorted up the Hudson River on its way to New York City. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, while expressing confidence that stresses on New York City's hospital system are easing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the ship deployed to New York City to help fight the coronavirus outbreak is no longer needed. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens. File)
In this March 30, 2020 file photo, the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is escorted up the Hudson River on its way to New York City. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, while expressing confidence that stresses on New York City's hospital system are easing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the ship deployed to New York City to help fight the coronavirus outbreak is no longer needed. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens. File)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Navy hospital ship sent to relieve stressed New York City hospitals as coronavirus cases surged is set to leave this week and return to its homeport in Virginia, the U.S. Navy said.

The USNS Comfort will set sail for Norfolk on Thursday, officials said in a statement Tuesday.

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The ship docked in Manhattan on March 30, and while it was originally deployed to care for non-coronavirus patients, by April 6 it had begun accepting those with the virus as the city’s hospitals continued to crowd.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that the ship was no longer needed as stresses on the hospital system appeared to be easing. As of Saturday, the 1,000-bed hospital ship had treated 182 patients. The last patients were discharged this week, according to the Navy.

Once in Norfolk, the ship will restock and remain ready for possible future deployments, officials said.

The ship was crewed by civilian mariners and a majority of its medical staff was based at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Officials did not say where the staff would go upon the ship’s return.

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