President Donald Trump traveled to Norfolk today, violating federal guidance limiting nonessential travel for seniors like himself.
The president acknowledged that making the 140-mile trip to Naval Station Norfolk wasn’t necessary, but said he did it to recognize the work of sailors and medical professionals who worked to get a U.S. Navy hospital ship out of maintenance more than a week ahead of schedule.
Trump gave a speech before only a few people and then watched as the USS Comfort slowly made its way out of port. The 1,000-bed hospital ship had been undergoing planned maintenance, but was rushed back into service to aid the city.
As Trump traveled to Norfolk, he sowed additional chaos about the federal government’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak by tweeting: “I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE of developing “hot spots”, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., who criticized the federal government’s response as his state became the country’s virus epicenter, said the issue had not come up in a conversation he had with Trump earlier Saturday.
“I don’t even know what that means,” he said at a briefing in New York. “I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable, and from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. … I don’t like the sound of it.”
The ship is scheduled to arrive Monday at a Manhattan pier a week after its sister ship, the USNS Mercy, arrived in Los Angeles to preform similar duty on the West Coast. It has 12 operating rooms as well as radiology suites and a CT scanner. It also has ICU beds, a lab and a pharmacy. The 1,100 or so medical staff on board are mostly active duty service members from the U.S. Navy, and some reservists, who serve on the East Coast.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.