On March 18, President Donald Trump announced that he had ordered two U.S. Navy hospital ships, the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy, to deploy to the east and west coasts of the nation, respectively, in order to help address the growing coronavirus outbreak and suggested that both ships would be on station within a week or two.
The president was roundly criticized and mocked by many in the media about his estimated time of arrival for the hospital ships, particularly by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who said such a quick turnaround and deployment of the vessels was impossible — only for both ships to arrive about a week and a half after the order was given, the Washington Examiner reported.
Maddow: Deployment timeline “nonsense”
Much of the skepticism surrounding Trump’s order for the hospital ships to deploy — the Mercy to Los Angeles and the Comfort to New York City — centered around the fact that both ships needed to refit and restock supplies while, at least in the case of the Comfort, there was also some maintenance work that needed to be completed, prompting estimates that the ships wouldn’t arrive at their destinations for at least two to three weeks, if not longer.
In fact, Maddow said on her program last week, “In terms of the ‘happy talk’ we’ve heard on this front from the federal government, there’s no sign that the Navy hospital ships that the president made such a big deal of, the Comfort and the Mercy, there’s no sign that they’ll be anywhere on site helping out anywhere in the country for weeks yet.”
“The president said, when he announced that those ships would be put into action against the COVID-19 epidemic, he said one of those ships would be operational in New York harbor by next week,” she added. “That’s nonsense. It will not be there next week.”
However, just days after Maddow’s gloomy pronouncement, the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles reported on March 27, just nine days after the order was given, that the Mercy had arrived at the Port of Los Angeles to dock, where its 1,000 beds, mountains of supplies, and highly-trained staff would take on non-COVID-19 patients to free up room in L.A.-area hospitals for a potential surge of coronavirus patients.
Just one day later on March 28, President Trump traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to see off the Comfort as it set sail for New York, where it arrived on Monday, March 30, just 12 days after Trump first issued the order for deployment.
“It’s stocked to the brim with equipment and medicines and everything that you can think of,” Trump said of the Comfort as it embarked on its short journey up the coast. “It is fully loaded with 12 operating rooms — and they are fully-equipped — 1,000 hospital beds, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, digital radiology, a CAT scan, two oxygen-producing plants, and a helicopter deck.”
The president also noted that the estimated four weeks of maintenance work had been completed in just four days, and he also pointed out that the Mercy had arrived in L.A. ahead of schedule.
Trump campaign touts results
In response to the early arrivals of both ships, and in light of the derisive comments uttered by media figures like Maddow, the Trump campaign issued a statement that couldn’t help but celebrate how those media pundits had been proven wrong.
“Democrats and the media saw this as another opportunity to attack the President,” the campaign said in a statement, according to the Examiner. “His decisive action to fully mobilize the federal government and private sector in the war against the coronavirus is saving lives.”
This is great news, mostly because of the successful effort by President Trump’s administration in responding to the coronavirus outbreak, and to a lesser degree — though no less a satisfying one — because it represents another moment of victory in the never-ending battle between Trump and his media opponents.