Navy Helicopters Deliver Respirators to Protect Crew Aboard USNS Comfort

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adelola Tinubu

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By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

(Washington, D.C.) Navy helicopters are delivering respirators to health care crew members on board the USNS Comfort now treating patients in support of COVID-19 response efforts in the New York City area, Navy officials said.

The delivery includes “air purifying respirators” to protect the health care team from inhaling viral agents while treating patients on the hospital ship in close quarters. i

“The delivery was 20 Positive pressure suites for infectious disease control, Extra filters, batteries, and battery chargers for the suits,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Mary Catherine Walsh told Warrior in a written statement.

Given the need for a rapid, comprehensive response to the pandemic, the USNS is now treating both COVID-19 patients as well as others in need of treatment on board the ship.

The respirators include “a full face mask device that provides complete respiratory isolation from the surrounding environment, with a tube connected to a filtration system that is worn on the belt,” Cmdr. Todd Morris, director of the department for medical services, said in the report. Navy Report

The Navy supply initiative, which used MH-60S helicopters, is designed to connect the ship’s treatment of patients with COVID-19 efforts at Javits New York Medical Station. As the respirators arrive on board the USNS Comfort, personnel are testing the effectiveness of the equipment with saccharine mist. Saccharine mist is flavored, harmless aerosol sprayed at a respirator mask to ensure it is airtight and properly fitted to the crew member wearing it, therefore preventing pathogens or viral agents from entering.

It makes sense that respirators would be used for those in closest contact with infected patients because they are found to be much more effective than face masks, according to a published study from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. “Surgical masks are primarily designed to protect the environment from the wearer, whereas the respirators are supposed to protect the wearer from the environment,” the study states. Viral penetration with respirators, the study findings state, is much less than 5-percent. NIH Report

Also, as part of a massive, service-wide relief effort in support of supply deliveries, the Navy has published a COVID-19 Prevention document. Among many things, the document instructs sailors, commanders and civilians preparing for deployment on board Navy ships to get screened before boarding, provide family contact information and quarantine for 14 days before boarding.

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Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition, Logistics& Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

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