Top Navy admiral begged Melissa DeRosa to fill Comfort Ship during COVID: emails
February 18, 2023 9:23am
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A US Navy admiral begged the Cuomo administration to send patients to the nearly-empty hospital ship docked on the Hudson River during the height of the pandemic — but his pleas were met with politics and paranoia, The Post has learned.
With city medical facilities packed with critically ill COVID patients in the spring of 2020 — and just days after the infamous edict by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to send COVID patients to nursing homes, which critics say resulted in thousands of deaths — the Trump administration sent the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed ship, to relieve hospitals of patients with non-COVID illnesses.
Another federal facility was set up in the Jacob Javits Center in midtown. Both famously sat mostly empty during their time of operation — with city, state and federal officials blaming each other for the issue at the time.
But in a trove of recently unearthed government emails obtained by activist Peter Arbeeny and provided to The Post, a frustrated Vice Admiral Mike Dumont urged the Cuomo administration to act.
“We could use some help from your office,” he wrote in an April 7, 2020 missive to Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa. “The Governor asked us to permit use of USNS COMFORT to treat patients without regard to their COVID status and we have done so. Right now we only have 37 patients aboard the ship. Further, we are treating only 83 patients at the Javits Events Center.
“We have been trying for days to get the Health Evacuation Coordination Center (HECC) to transfer more patients to us but with little success. We are told by NYC officials the HECC falls under the State’s Department of Health,” the email continued. “Our greatest concern is two-fold: helping take the strain off local hospitals, and not wasting high-end capabilities the US military has brought to NYC. We appreciate the help.”
Within minutes, DeRosa circulated the admiral’s message to the state’s top COVID officials, including Michael Kopy, director of New York’s emergency management office and city Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. Michael J. Dowling, the p