New York gets hospital ship as US coronavirus deaths top 3,000

Medics load a person into an ambulance outside of a care center in Kirkland, Washington, in this March 4, 2020 file picture. — Courtesy photo

WASHINGTON — The US death toll from the coronavirus climbed past 3,000, with more than 500 succumbing to the virus on Monday, the deadliest day yet, as the country battles the pandemic.

As the US faces a mounting crisis with the reported cases climbing to more than 163,00 , New York state had something to cheer about.

The arrival of a gleaming 1,000-bed US Navy hospital ship as a sign of hope in the city's desperate fight.

USNS Comfort, the 894 foot-long vessel — which also has space for a dozen operating rooms — was greeted by cheering crowds after departing Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday.

People in New York and New Jersey lined both sides of the Hudson River to cheer the US Navy ship Comfort, a converted oil tanker painted white with giant red crosses, as it sailed past the Statue of Liberty accompanied by support ships and helicopters.

"It's a wartime atmosphere and we all have to pull together," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was among the dignitaries to greet the ship's arrival at the Midtown Manhattan pier.

New York has more confirmed cases than any other state, with more than 67,000 cases; 1,342 have died, accounting for nearly one-third of all US deaths.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Trump canceled his plans to re-open much of the country by Easter — April 12 — and extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April after his top scientists confronted him with data on the rising coronavirus crisis.

Trump said America's death rate was likely to increase for two weeks, describing as "horrible" a prediction by senior scientist Anthony Fauci that COVID-19 could claim up to 200,000 lives. — Agencies