DOD is expanding its COVID-19 medical support in three of the nation’s hardest-hit metro regions. Members of the military will now treat patients who test positive for the coronavirus at the Javits Federal Medical Station in New York City, the Morial Federal Medical Station in New Orleans and the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Federal Medical Station in Dallas.

The expansion comes at FEMA’s request, according to a Pentagon press release.

The COVID-19 patients treated at the facilities must first be screened at a local hospital and determined to need a lower level of care.

The press release also announced it will now screen pier-side for patients who need to be treated at the USNS Comfort, which is docked in New York City to help with non-coronavirus cases. The initial process required that a hospital give a patient a coronavirus-negative diagnosis before sending them to the ship for other care; A New York Times report said that was causing strain on hospitals and leaving many of the USNS Comfort beds unfilled.

FEMA photo by Kenneth Wilsey