Seven per cent of New York’s police department is on sick leave with suspected coronavirus, as officers complain their health is being put at risk.
Leaked reports from inside the NYPD reveal that there is a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) and limited adherence to measures around exposure of the virus.
On Tuesday, reports suggested that 211 NYPD officers had been confirmed to be carrying the coronavirus, whilst 3,200 officers were off sick.
One cop told Vanity Fair that they had been “thrown to the wolves,” and said: “We don’t even have the right protective gear. They gave us a box of gloves and surgical masks that don’t stop the virus. We’re exposed.”
Another NYPD source said that most officers were reusing a single-use mask handed to them two weeks. A union representing NYPD sergeants said on Sunday that officers “have a right to expect personal protection in such situations”.
Cases in New York City, now the epicentre of the pandemic in the United States, continue to double every three days with more than 15,000 cases confirmed in the city alone.
On Tuesday, Mayor, Bill de Blasio, told Fox News that the NYPD would begin “spreading the message, telling people to break it up, move along, no lines tight together in a grocery store, no grocery stores full up.”
Some officers fear that they are instead spreading the coronavirus amongst colleagues, as some officers were being sent back to work with coronavirus symptoms, before testing positive days later.
Vanity Fair was told that “One guy had symptoms but was not tested because they’re only testing people with fevers”. The NYPD Deputy Commissioner’s office declined the magazine’s request for comment.
As the number of NYPD officers on sick leave increases, most anticipate that the force will enact emergency plans putting officers on 12-hour patrols.
It comes as police departments in other parts of the US, including Los Angeles and Detroit, confirm that officers have tested positive for coronavirus.
On Wednesday, a Detroit police captain became the second member of the department to die from coronavirus.