Navy hospital ships set to arrive in NYC, LA within days to relieve pressure on local hospitals treating coronavirus patients

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump says he will travel to Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday to see off a 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship that will relieve the pressure on New York hospitals dealing with coronavirus patients.

Trump says he told New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo the ship will arrive in New York Harbor on Monday.

Trump said in a White House press conference that he'll "kiss it goodbye" and that the ship is "loaded up to the top" with medical supplies.

The announcement of the USNS Comfort's planned deployment comes as New York City-area hospitals are clearing out beds, setting up new spaces to triage patients and urging people with mild symptoms to consult health professionals by phone or video chat instead of overrunning emergency rooms.

RELATED: How is coronavirus spread? Symptoms, prevention, and how to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in New York had climbed to 3,800 this week, including close to 900 in intensive care, with the peak of the outbreak weeks away.

The critical question remains whether the severe "social distancing" restrictions recently enacted by New York will help the state avoid a worst-case scenario of overwhelmed hospitals.

A second Navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, is expected to arrive at the Port of Los Angeles on Friday. The Mercy will service non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals, according to the Navy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.