The Department of Defense announced on Friday that it would ease the process of allowing patients to receive care on the USNS Comfort emergency hospital ship in New York City, which has only accepted 20 patients thus far.
Ambulances will no longer be obligated to take potential patients to a hospital for a screen test before delivering them to the ship, which treats patients who do not have COVID-19. Instead, the patients will be taken directly to the ship to be screened at the pier.
The patients will have their temperature taken and fill out a “short questionnaire” instead of having to undergo a lengthy assessment to determine whether they test negative for the coronavirus, as previously required.
“We will immediately implement this action and work with local officials in each area on the details of patient arrival,” the Pentagon said.
After New York hospitals sounded the alarm on overcrowding due to the skyrocketing COVID-19 cases filling up the wards, the Trump administration deployed the USNS Comfort to the city in an effort to ease the burden.
However, hospital workers soon grew frustrated by the ship’s tight requirements for admittance, which allowed only a fraction of non-coronavirus cases to be treated on a ship with a 1,000 bed capacity.
“If I’m blunt about it, it’s a joke,” Michael Dowling, the head of Northwell Health, told the New York Times.
During a press conference on Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he was unaware of revised guidelines.