The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the US military will need to open temporary hospitals for the treatment of the coranavirus. No doubt some plans exist for regional disasters such as hurricanes, but this will have to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
The US Navy has begun to prepare for the USNS Comfort and Mercy to be deployed to hot spots.
Two sources told USNI News that the idea was for the ships to provide relief for coastal hospital systems, with the ships taking on non-COVID-19 cases and allowing the hospitals to focus on the most critical patients suffering from the virus. The Pentagon also has extensive equipment for erecting field hospitals in addition to the hospital ships, but those facilities are optimized for trauma cases, with several beds close together, and not for infectious patients.
The ships will not be treating viral patients but relieving hospitals of some trauma cases. However, this is barely a drop in the bucket for the amount of treatment that will be needed nationwide.
Fortunately, having a treatment facility for a single type of infection can be more easily arranged than opening a fully functional hospital. In an emergency, you may not need a full team of doctors and nurses to treat the virus. Medical students, military medics, and former medics under the supervision of doctors may have to do. Patients needing the most care will still need to go a fully functioning hospital, but many may have only very basic care.
Let us that FEMA can do a better job than they did for Puerto Rico or New Orleans.