Giant Hospital Ship Arrives in Los Angeles

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A giant hospital ship with 1 thousand beds arrived at the Port of Los Angeles early Friday, part of a push to ramp up coronavirus capacity in California’s largest city.

The Mercy, a converted oil tanker, comes complete with a staff of 800 and will be used to treat non-coronavirus patients in order to free up regional hospitals for what is expected to be a surge of new coronavirus patients in the coming weeks.

In the past week, the state of California doubled its forecast for the number of hospital beds that may be needed by coronavirus patients, to 50 thousand.   The state’s more than 400 hospitals, including those in Sonoma County and the North Bay, are rapidly ramping up capacity, and hope to free up 40 percent of their capacity for a surge of coronavirus patients…some 30 thousand beds.

But to reach the 50 thousand bed level, state and regional governments are looking at converting or taking over facilities like assembly halls, college dorms, shuttered medical facilities and other assets where non-coronavirus patients can be sent.

California has also asked for up to 10 mobile hospitals that can be set up quickly throughout the state, and the federal government has so far agreed to send 2 that will become part of the state’s coronavirus surge response.


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