As coronavirus continues to spread through New York, almost 7 percent of the uniformed officers employed by the New York Police Department called out sick Monday. Roughly 2,400 employees reported themselves as being ill on Monday with approximately 100 officers testing positive for coronavirus.
“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,” the NYPD said in a Tuesday statement, which also said that the absence of the officers had “minimal impact” on the NYPD’s job effectiveness.
Spokesperson Mary Frances O’Donnell of the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information for the NYPD told Newsweek that the department would be updating the numbers “and will likely do so every day for the foreseeable future.”
Members of the NYPD have started to monitor social distancing in public places to curb the spread of coronavirus, issuing warnings Sunday in areas where crowding was an issue.
New York has become the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak with recent data indicating 21,689 cases of the virus confirmed in the state.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Monday at a press briefing that people in the New York metropolitan area are five times as likely to contract the 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.”
During a news briefing Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked for ventilators to be sent to New York with the promise that his state would be ready to assist other states once the crisis in New York had passed.
“We stand ready to support our nation,” de Blasio said, “but now we need our nation to help us first because we are the front line of this fight.”
FEMA has distributed 400 ventilators to New York hospitals and the federal government is expected to send 4,000 ventilators to the state within 48 hours. However, de Blasio said those ventilators only represent “the beginning of what we need.”
“If a doctor cannot get a ventilator to that patient literally the minute they need it, if too many minutes pass, that patient will suffocate,” de Blasio said. “That patient will die a horrible death and they will be gone forever.”
“I don’t want to see a single person die who could have been saved,” de Blasio added.
While President Donald Trump enacted the Defense Production Act (DPA) on Wednesday, which would force manufacturers to build medical equipment such as ventilators and masks needed in the fight against coronavirus, Trump has yet to announce the usage of those powers.
However, FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor told CNN on Tuesday that the administration would use the DPA “for the first time today.”
“There’s some test kits we need to get our hands on,” Gaynor said.
World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
- Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.
- If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
- Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.
- Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
- Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
- Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
- Do not reuse single-use masks.