NEW YORK CITY — It's not Afghanistan or Iraq, but a group of Fort Hood soldiers are battling on the front lines of the coronavirus.
"This is very serious and important work, and this is absolutely the right place to be," explained Col. David Hamilton, Commander of the 9th Medical Center.
Two weeks ago, about 250 soldiers were rushed to New York City to set up extra hospital space. As they packed their bags, they had no idea where they would be setting up or what to expect.
"It was very quick and fast paced, but very surreal when you're trying to lay out how a field hospital is going to fit on a pier in New York City," said Col. Hamilton.
By the time they arrived, New York had arranged for them to set up a makeshift hospital in the Javitz Convention Center. Originally the field hospital was only supposed to house non-COVID related patients. But they soon realized that was not a realistic option.
"We just assume that everyone we see in our facility has been exposed to COVID, just because they've been in hospitals that have COVID presence," explained Col. Hamilton.
He said his crew has been working long days, up to 18 hours, but they are being taken care of. They are staying in a hotel and have plenty of protective equipment.
"Our soldiers are very well cared for, and they realize that they are working very hard toward the mission to kill the virus," he said.
So far, none of the Ford Hood soldiers in New York have come down with COVID-19. However Col. Hamilton says leadership is telling soldiers to stay in their rooms if they begin to feel symptoms.
"We're taking good care of ourselves, but we are very cognizant that you all back home take care of yourself too," he said.
The soldiers will stay in New York until the military determines there is a greater need somewhere else.