On Friday, it looked like the USNS Mercy, one of the Navy's two 1,000-bed hospital ships, was coming for Seattle. ABC News, CNN, state media, and other sources, talking to U.S. officials, reported that the ship was expected to dock in the Seattle region sometime next week. The Mercy wasn't going to be used to treat COVID-19 cases, but to assist with regular emergency injuries that hospitals won't be able to accommodate because of the surge of patients suffering from coronavirus.
Last Tuesday Gov. Inslee made an impassioned plea to Trump for the ship, writing that "it is clear that [Washington's] medical capacity is the first to be impacted and is now the most severely challenged in the nation." California's Gov. Newsom also made a plea for the ship to dock in Los Angeles, but it looked like the Navy was going to honor Inslee's request.
Nope! Now the Mercy is headed to L.A., though Washington will get "FEMA-led medical centers totaling 1,000 beds in the coming days," according to the New York Times. The news just broke at Trump's afternoon press conference:
The Navy has two hospital ships, the Mercy and the Comfort, ready to deploy on both coasts. "Incredible ships," Trump said Sunday. "I’ve seen it. I’ve seen one of them. They’re unbelievable, what they can do… many operating rooms. Many, many operating rooms. Stainless steel. These rooms are as good as there is anywhere in the nation, actually.”
The Comfort is expected to deploy to New York City within “three or four weeks," Trump said. Meanwhile, the Mercy, it's now decided, will head for Los Angeles "within a week or less," according to FEMA administrator Pete T. Gaynor.
Though Washington state has more cases, Gaynor said the ship will have the “greatest impact” in California, where projected needs will be "five times" larger than in Washington.
Damn. Seattle desperately needed that ship. Unfortunately for L.A., it looks like the Department of Defense thinks they're going to need it more.
Here's what Inslee has to say about it:
While I am very disappointed the USNS Mercy is not coming to WA, I appreciate that federal field hospitals are on the way to help with increased medical needs.— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) March 22, 2020
My staff and I will keep working until we have the resources necessary to care for all Washingtonians. #WeGotThisWA https://t.co/TFVHuHaz0O
This story is breaking. Stranger senior staff writer Rich Smith contributed to this post.