NEW YORK - The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship brought to New York City to assist in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, has discharged its last patients and will return to Virginia by the end of the month, the Navy announced Sunday.
The 1,000-bed hospital ship, which has been docked at a Manhattan pier since March 30, originally was deployed to care for patients without coronavirus but wound up switching gears and started accepting them as the city's hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
As of Saturday, the ship had treated just 182 patients. There was just one patient left on the ship late Saturday evening.
"We are proud and humbled to have assisted New York and New Jersey in this capacity," Lt. Lt Marycate Walsh, a Navy spokeswoman, said.
The Comfort’s sister ship, the Mercy, was deployed to Los Angeles the same day to support efforts to combat the virus. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti have yet to approve its withdrawal.
The Comfort is expected to leave for its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, where it will restock and be readied for another possible assignment, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. He did not provide a date for the ship's departure.
Hoffman said the Comfort's impending departure "is a sure sign of modest progress in mitigating the virus in the nation's hardest-hit city and is a welcome sign."
New York City has started to test health-care workers and first responders for coronavirus antibodies as data showed hospitalizations for the disease fell to their lowest level in three weeks.
Earlier Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state's overall number of daily COVID-19 deaths has dipped below 400 for the first time this month.
A temporary hospital set up at a Manhattan's Javits Center has also seen lower-than-projected patient volume. As of Saturday, the facility had treated a total of about 1,100 patients, with 125 still receiving care.
First envisioned as a 2,500-bed field hospital for people without the disease, the convention center was soon converted to a coronavirus-only hospital but topped out at about 500 beds.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] announced Saturday there was no official date for the closure of the facility.
"We are encouraged by the data which suggests the curve is flattening in New York and we are working with the city and state to begin the strategic drawdown of resources," FEMA continued.
Fox News’ Peter Aitken, Maria Paronich and The Associated Press contributed to this report.