Seven Crewmembers Test Positive Aboard Hospital Ship USNS Mercy

Patient care briefing aboard USNS Mercy, April 13 (USN)

Published Apr 14, 2020 2:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy confirmed Monday that seven crewmembers aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy have contracted COVID-19, up from one confirmed case reported last Wednesday. 

All seven have been removed from the ship and placed into isolation. An additional 120 individuals who are believed to have come into close contact with these known cases have also disembarked and are under quarantine on shore. 

Officials have said that the outbreak is not expected to affect Mercy's capacity to treat patients. 

The Mercy is berthed at the Port of Los Angeles' cruise terminal in order to provide extra capacity for the LA region's shoreside medical system. She is a designated facility for non-COVID patients only, and her crew have implemented strict evaluation and testing protocols for patient referrals in order to keep coronavirus off the ship. Mercy has her own COVID-19 testing capability on board, with enough capacity for about 60 tests per day, her medical team commander told the New York Times.

USNS Mercy's hospital facilities have been minimally utilized since her arrival, a reflection of the relatively low COVID-19 burden in the Los Angeles region. LA County has reported about 9,400 cases and 320 deaths, far below the 110,000-plus cases within New York City, where hospital facilities have been overrun with coronavirus cases.

At present, the 1,000-bed hospital facility aboard USNS Mercy is treating only 20 patients, including just one ICU patient. Only adults are admitted, and only by referral; certain case classes (like obstetrics) are excluded.