As California braces for an onslaught of coronavirus patients over the next few weeks, some relief for Los Angeles area hospitals is expected to arrive Friday.
The U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy is on its way to the Port of Los Angeles and should be in service no later than Saturday after docking sometime Friday, the Orange County Register reported.
The Mercy, which is designed to treat trauma patients, is equipped with 1,000 hospital beds and will bear some of the increasing burden on local hospitals.
The ship does not have a way of isolating patients so it will only be receiving non-infected patients, according to the register.
Those patients will be transported to the ship from area hospitals, Port of L.A. Police Chief Tom Gazsi said during a news conference Thursday.
“This is not intended to be a service site or a hospital site that you would come to for an emerging medical need or in the event of a medical emergency," Gazsi said. "Please respond to your local hospitals where you can receive medical treatment as you would under normal circumstances,” he added.
The arrival of the Mercy is not expected to impact the port's ability to handle cargo, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said.
As of Thursday, no port workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and the port has not had to shut down any of its 27 terminals, Seroka said.
Safety precautions are also being taken, with machinery and equipment being cleaned as they are handled by different people, he said.
California, which has reported more than 3,000 cases and 67 deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic as of Wednesday night, is expecting a large surge in patients over the next two to three weeks.
“We see cases doubling every three to four days,” Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said recently during a Facebook news conference.
The state's rapid increase in patients in on pace with New York, Ghaly said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said there currently aren’t enough tests available to provide the full picture of the state’s coronavirus outbreak.