Coronavirus News: Cuomo tells Trump NY no longer needs USNS Comfort during White House meeting

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo told President Donald Trump that New York no longer needs the USNS Comfort during their Oval Office meeting on Tuesday.

While the majority of their conversation was about testing, Cuomo said he thanked Trump for the building the field hospital at the Javits Center and sending the hospital ship, but that the Comfort is no longer needed.

"I said we don't really need the Comfort anymore, it gives us comfort, but if they need to deploy that somewhere else, they should take it," Cuomo told MSNBC during an interview after the meeting.

Trump said at his Tuesday briefing that he asked Cuomo if "we could bring the Comfort back to its base in Virginia so that we could have it in other locations." Trump said they would bring the ship back soon.

The Navy ship arrived March 30 as state and city officials scrambled to add hospital beds to prepare for a potentially catastrophic surge in COVID-19 cases.

But hospitalization levels appeared to have peaked recently amid strict stay-at home restrictions. Total statewide hospitalizations have slowly dropped to about 16,000, more than 2,000 below a week ago.

The USNS Comfort has treated 178 patients to date, according to Northwell Health which is assisting in clinical operations. There are 58 patients still aboard the Comfort, ABC News reported.

Cuomo went on to say that the meeting went well and it was productive.

Before their meeting, Cuomo had repeatedly said that he needs help from the federal government when it comes to large scale testing which he says is required to reopen the economy in New York.

Cuomo said they discussed the next steps going forward on testing and how to separate the responsibilities and the tasks between the state and the federal government.

"We agreed that the state will be responsible for managing the actual tests in our laboratories," Cuomo said. "The federal government will take on the responsibility of supply chain issues that are beyond states' control."

Cuomo also said that he expressed the need for federal funding to fill the hole that COVID-19 has put New York in. He said the White House understood the need.

While over the past few months Trump and Cuomo have had a rocky relationship, over the past few days they have been complimentary of each other.

On Sunday, Cuomo thanked the president for his help and the president also saying that Governor Cuomo is doing a good job.

Trump said he believes a lot of "good things are happening in New York."

MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE



UPDATES

Grieving the lost: Tri-State residents who have died
New Jersey
Connecticut
New York City
Long Island



RESOURCES

Where are the testing centers
See how our communities are making a difference
Free educational resources for parents and children
How you can help victims of coronavirus

RELATED INFORMATION

Share your coronavirus story with Eyewitness News
Stimulus check scams and other coronavirus hoaxes
Coronavirus prevention: how clean are your hands?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus
Total count of NYC COVID-19 cases based on patient address

Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.