Why Not Send Mercy and Comfort?
With the Ebola crisis apparently far from being controlled in Africa, the Obama administration has committed a large contingent of American troops to the fight and now is reportedly weighing the possibility of bringing African victims to the U.S. for treatment.
I have a suggestion to make: why not send Mercy and Comfort into the battle zone to inject the tremendous life-saving resources they possess?
For those of you who don’t know, the USNS Mercy (pictured right) and her sister ship, the USNS Comfort, are two huge hospital ships maintained by the United States Navy to provide stand-off, life-saving medical care for U.S. forces in combat. These two vessels share the distinction of being the second-largest ships in the fleet, bested in length only by the Nimitz-class supercarriers. The Mercy, home-ported in San Diego, has a maximum patient capacity of 1,000 beds, as does the Comfort, which is home-ported at Norfolk. True, with all the special precautions required in treating Ebola patients, that capacity would no doubt be substantially reduced. Still, the augmentation they could provide the beleaguered medical community in West Africa at this critical time would be tremendous.
And yes, there is plenty of precedence for such a non-military humanitarian mission. The Comfort was docked in midtown Manhattan immediately following the 9/11 attacks. She stood offshore in the Gulf of Mexico below New Orleans following Katrina, treating victims of that terrible storm, and did the same off Haiti following the 2010 earthquake there. Mercy has conducted similar humanitarian missions in the Pacific Rim, most notably following the 2005 tsunami in Southeast Asia.
So I will ask this administration this: why bring Ebola patients within our borders and risk the possibility of a wildfire epidemic that could have a devastating impact on our nation when we could very capably treat hundreds of those same patients aboard those two floating hospitals sitting a few miles offshore from West Africa?