Mayor Bill de Blasio was apoplectic to see how many New Yorkers left their homes to see the USNS Comfort hospital ship arrive in the city on Monday, without seeming to comprehend the crisis that required its presence in the first place.
Onlookers crowded near Pier 90 on the Upper West Side to greet the hospital ship, flouting repeated calls for social distancing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The mayor called the gathering "unacceptable" in an interview Monday with NBC.
"We all feel a lot emotionally about the arrival of the Comfort, it's giving us so much hope that our military is here," de Blasio said. "As much as we love the Comfort and we love the fact that the military's here, people must practice social distancing."
The Comfort is adding some 1,000 hospital beds to the city's medical infrastructure badly strained due to daily increases in local COVID-19 cases that require hospitalization.
Official say the virus is likely far from its peak in New York. Sites like the USNS Comfort and the Javits Center, which has been retrofitted to serve as a hospital, are meant to be sterile sites where non-COVID-19 patients can be treated for the duration of the outbreak.
De Blasio recently authorized the NYPD to start fining people who continue to ignore restrictions on social gatherings or refuse to disperse when ordered.
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