Over 7% of New York cops call in sick on SAME DAY as 100 officers test positive for coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down in New York. Now, worrying reports say that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has been seriously hit by the outbreak. Almost 7 percent of the department's uniformed officers called in sick on March 23, which means nearly 2,400 employees were reportedly ill and about 100 officers tested positive for the virus.
The NYPD issued a statement on March 24 in which it said: "The increase in the number of employees on sick report was anticipated and given the nature of the virus, it is expected that this number will grow." It also assured that the absence of the officers did not have any big impact on its job effectiveness.
Newsweek cited Mary Frances O'Donnell, the spokesperson of the Deputy Commissioner of Police Information for the department, as saying that the NYPD would be updating the numbers "and will likely to do so every day for the foreseeable future".
Despite its challenges, the NYPD officers were monitoring whether people were observing social distancing in public places to curb the spread of the virus. On March 22, it issued warnings in crowded places.
The state of New York has turned out to be the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US with one tracker showing the state has reported over 23,000 cases and at least 192 deaths. State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been praised for his proactive response to the pandemic, said at a press briefing on March 24 that the cases were doubling every three days and compared the spread to a "bullet train".
"We're not slowing it, and it's increasing on its own. One of the forecasters said to me we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We're now looking at a bullet train, because the numbers are going up that quickly," the Democrat said.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx raised an alarm at a press meet on March 23 saying people living in the New York metropolitan area are five times more susceptible to coronavirus.
"To all of my friends and colleagues in New York," Birx said, "This is the group that needs to absolutely social distance and self-isolate at this time. Clearly the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrance into the general community."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was recently criticized for visiting a public gym after asking millions to stay inside amid the scare, sought help for the city in forms of ventilators and promised that the Empire State would be ready to help other states once its own crisis passes.
"We stand ready to support our nation," the NYC mayor said, adding: "But now we need our nation to help us first because we are the front line of this fight."
Dr Josh Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, was cited by MarketWatch as saying that the density of population is the reason for the rapid spread of the pandemic in New York.
The US has so far reported 42,164 cases of coronavirus with 471 deaths, according to WHO. Worldwide, the death toll is nearing 17,000 while 375,498 are affected.