‘This is a global war against this virus’: Orlando native describes working on US Navy hospital ship during pandemic

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando native said he was given 24 hours’ notice to deploy to the U.S. Navy hospital ship now docked off the coast of California to help provide medical support amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a report from the Navy Office of Community Outreach, Petty Officer 1st Class Willie Naranjoperalta arrived in Los Angeles with more than 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff to serve aboard the USNS Mercy as part of the U.S Navy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a global war against this virus, a total war. We volunteered to deploy in 24 hours, we answered the call and lead by example to help support the efforts,” Naranjoperalta said, according to the report. “This rapid response means that I am ready anytime, and anywhere to deploy at a moment's notice to serve my country and to participate in missions that are not normally open to reservists.”


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Naranjoperalta is serving as a Navy hospital corpsman. He is responsible for providing medical care, and inspection of water, food and fittings on N95 masks.

“Our purpose is to inform our sailors that being knowledgeable of how to combat this virus by practicing personal hygiene will deal a blow and get us one step closer to victory and return to normal life,” Naranjoperalta said.

The Navy Office of Community Outreach said the Mercy’s primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. Officials said the Mercy's secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.

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“Mercy brings a team of medical professionals, medical equipment, and supplies, all of which will act, in essence, as a relief valve for local civilian hospitals in Los Angeles so that local health professionals can better focus on COVID-19 cases,” said Capt. John Rotruck, Medical Treatment Facility USNS Mercy commanding officer. “We will use our agility and responsiveness as an afloat Medical Treatment Facility to do what the country asks, and bring relief where we are needed most.”

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