LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to help bring the USNS Mercy hospital ship back to Los Angeles to relieve pressure on local hospitals.

Hahn’s request was made in a letter to Newsom written in support of health care workers and members of the SEIU 721, the union representing medical professionals.

What You Need To Know

  • LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn has asked for the governor's help in redeploying the USNS Mercy hospital ship to Los Angeles

  • The Mercy was previously deployed to the Port of Los Angeles from March through May, treating more than 70 non-COVID patients

  • Local health care experts believe that the greatest impact on the local health care system is a lack of available workers, not an equipment shortage

  • COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Los Angeles and across the country, heavily taxing hospitals

“The devastating increase in COVID-19 cases and the number of individuals requiring hospital level care are pushing hospitals across LA County to their breaking point,” Hahn wrote. “Our dedicated and highly skilled health care providers are working tirelessly to save lives; but there just isn’t enough staffing available to provide all patients with the best care possible.”

Hahn’s plea comes as cases of COVID-19 continue to batter the health care system. On Dec. 29, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 12,979 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 227 new deaths.

Hospitals across the region report intensive-care unit capacity at 0%. Frontline healthcare workers caution that the greatest issue they face isn’t a lack of supplies but a lack of workforce power — that there simply aren’t enough people on hand to treat patients. 

USNS Mercy was previously deployed to the Port of Los Angeles early during the COVID pandemic, from March through May. More than 70 patients were treated aboard Mercy before it returned to its homeport in San Diego.

“The medical professionals aboard Mercy are proud and humbled to have assisted FEMA, the state of California, Los Angeles County and the city of Los Angeles, while serving as a 'relief valve' to the community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Every patient brought aboard created one more available bed in a local hospital,'' Capt. John Rotruck, the ship's commanding officer, said in a statement in May.