Navy hospital ship reaches New York. But it’s not made to contain coronavirus.

NEW YORK — New York’s governor issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers Monday amid a “staggering” number of deaths from the coronavirus, as he and health officials warned that the crisis unfolding in New York City is just a preview of what other communities across the United States could soon face.

“Please come help us in New York now,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said as the state’s death toll climbed by more than 250 in a single day to a total of more than 1,200 victims, most of them in the city. He said an additional 1 million health care workers are needed to tackle the crisis.


“We’ve lost over 1,000 New Yorkers,’’ Cuomo said. ‘‘To me, we’re beyond staggering already. We’ve reached staggering.”

Even before the governor’s appeal, close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors, and other professionals in New York were stepping up to volunteer.

‘‘Whatever it is that they need, I’m willing to do,” said Jerry Kops, a musician and former nurse whose tour with the show Blue Man Group was abruptly halted by the outbreak.

He returned to his Long Island home, where he volunteered to be a nurse again. While waiting to be reinstated, Kops has been helping at an assisted-living home near his house in Shirley, N.Y.

The spike in deaths in New York was another sign of the long fight ahead against the global pandemic, which was filling Spain’s intensive care beds to capacity and shutting millions of Americans inside even as the crisis in China, where the outbreak began in December, kept easing.

More than 235 million people — about two of every three Americans — live in the 33 states where governors have declared statewide orders or recommendations to stay home.

The United States reported more than 160,000 infections and over 3,000 deaths, with New York City the nation’s worst hot spot, and New Orleans, Detroit, and other cities also seeing alarming clusters.


Associated Press

Hospital ship drops anchor in New York Harbor

WASHINGTON — The enormous hospital ship USNS Comfort arrived in New York Harbor on Monday morning, a gleaming white beacon of hope for a besieged city as it fights the novel coronavirus.

But in sending a Navy hospital ship to join the battle against a pandemic, military officials have taken a huge and calculated risk: Can a ship, the type of vessel where viruses have been shown to spread with frightening ease, actually remain safe from the infection raging just outside?

Navy officials do not plan to treat people with coronavirus aboard the Comfort. The mission is to take patients with other medical problems to relieve New York hospitals overrun by virus patients. But it is not as if the ship’s medical personnel can quarantine patients for two weeks before they accept them on board for treatment.

Navy officials insist that they are doing everything short of Saran-wrapping the ship to try to keep it virus-free.

That has meant almost sequestering the ship’s crew of 1,200 for the past two weeks to lessen their chances of contracting the virus, Captain Joseph O’Brien, commodore of Task Force New York City, said. The ship closed its workout rooms days ago, and the crew members have been practicing social distancing — at least, as much as they can in the confined quarters of a ship.

But there remain challenges.


Navy officials acknowledge that it will be extremely difficult to ensure no one with coronavirus gets on board. The ship’s crew will not be allowed off the ship.

With 12 operating rooms, 1,000 hospital beds, radiology services, a laboratory, pharmacy, and CT scanner, the Comfort is its own fully-staffed hospital.

New York Times

Virus hits Detroit, a city that has seen crisis before

DETROIT — It has seen its population plummet, houses fall to ruin, and the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation. Now another crisis has descended on Detroit: the coronavirus.

In less than two weeks, 35 people with the coronavirus have died in Detroit. The police chief has tested positive for the virus, and more than 500 police officers are in quarantine. On Sunday morning, the city’s downtown, a center of Detroit’s post-bankruptcy resurgence, was quiet and mostly deserted.

The virus could place a unique burden on Detroit, a city of 670,000 people where 3 of 10 residents live in poverty, a large number have asthma and other chronic diseases, and hospitals are already overwhelmed.

By Monday afternoon, with more than 6,500 cases, Michigan was third in known cases among the states, behind New York and New Jersey. Across the state, at least 196 residents have died, placing Michigan fourth across the nation in deaths from the virus.

New York Times

Outbreak at Marine Corps boot camp infects dozens

A coronavirus outbreak has infected dozens of Marine recruits and staff members at the service’s East Coast recruit training center, prompting the suspension of additional arrivals for the foreseeable future, defense officials said Monday.

The cases at Parris Island, S.C., emerged following a ‘‘wave in testing’’ over the weekend, a defense official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. One official said there are at least 20 positive cases, and another said there are believed to be a few dozen but less than 50.


The outbreak could mark the Defense Department’s largest yet. Defense officials have said that dozens of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus while on deployment in the Pacific, forcing a stop last week for treatment in Guam.

The Marine Corps acknowledged the suspension of new recruits arriving at Parris Island but did not detail how many cases have emerged following a Pentagon decision last week to not provide specific information about coronavirus cases from individual bases and units.

Marine officials said in a statement that the service is taking steps to ‘‘protect its recruits, recruit training personnel, their families, and the communities where they live and serve by temporarily suspending the shipping of new recruits’’ to Parris Island.

Washington Post

Federal officials investigate pandemic profiteering

A Brooklyn man was arrested for coughing on FBI agents who came to investigate whether he was selling medical supplies, including N95 masks, at inflated prices in what appears to be one of the first cases related to alleged profiteering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was charged with assaulting federal officers and lying to them about his accumulation and sale of medical supplies, the US attorney’s office in New Jersey said Monday. He wasn’t charged with profiteering.


The agents had been staking out Feldheim’s residence in Brooklyn, watching people leave with what looked like medical supplies. Prosecutors said that Feldheim sold supplies at as much as a 700 percent markup to doctors and nurses.

Hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere are running so short on medical equipment that doctors and nurses are being forced to reuse disposable masks for days at a time. That’s spurred a wave of brokers and hustlers who are bombarding purchasing departments with offers, claiming they’ve located sources of supplies. Even if the administrators are willing to pay high prices, they’re having trouble telling who’s legitimate. The Trump administration has said it will crack down on profiteering.

One doctor in New Jersey contacted Feldheim on March 18 through a WhatsApp chat group called “Virus2020!” and arranged to buy about 1,000 N95 masks and other goods for $12,000, prosecutors said. Feldheim sent the doctor to an auto repair shop in Irvington, N.J., to pick up his order, according to the statement. The doctor later said that the shop had enough hand sanitizer and surgical supplies to outfit a hospital, prosecutors said.

Bloomberg News