USNS Comfort crew member tells New Yorkers: ‘You don’t have to be afraid anymore’
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The Navy is calling Alexandria Agudelo the “true definition of service.”
Agudelo, a Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class stationed inside the USNS Comfort’s emergency room, released an emotional video this week telling New Yorkers: “We are here for you and you don’t have to be afraid anymore” during the coronavirus outbreak.
The last time the Comfort docked in New York City was following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – making this mission “really special” for Agudelo.
“My uncle actually responded to 9/11 with the Comfort. He was a firefighter in the Army at the time and having this opportunity to be here and follow in his footsteps – someone that, is the motivation for me joining the military – it’s been pretty awesome,” Agudelo said. “This mission has been very humbling for me and it’s pretty amazing to be able to be here and respond to Americans after spending so much time in South America.”
The USNS Comfort arrived in New York City on March 30. It was reconfigured this week to start accepting coronavirus patients and as of Thursday, is treating 60, according to the New York Post.
But there have been reports of bureaucratic struggles between the Navy and hospitals, as many of the ship’s 500 beds are being left unfilled.
“I’ve tried without success to transfer some patients down to the Comfort,” a New York doctor told Fox News earlier this week.
“It takes a lot to get through the bureaucracy. NYC hospitals have little desire to talk to Navy chains of command to get patients evaluated. I think things are smoothing out, though.”
New York City Council Health Committee Chairman Mark Levine told the New York Post that the Navy and Army are insisting on hand-picking and transporting patients themselves to the Comfort and a similar emergency hospital at Manhattan’s Javits Center.
“Hospitals should be able to drop off patients there instead of having staff from Javits or Comfort come to pick them up,” he argued.
A crew member onboard the Comfort tested positive for coronavirus on Monday but is being kept in isolation.
Fox News’ Chris Irvine contributed to this report.