Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said on FOX5 Thursday morning that 322 members of the department have tested positive for COVID-19 — a 36-percent increase in confirmed coronavirus cases from the day prior — with many tests still outstanding. The breakdown of uniformed officers and civilians who have the bug was not provided.
“These jumps are very significant,” he said. “What we’re seeing here is that, if you look at […] community spread, the assumption is that large portions of New York City residents and members of the workforce have been exposed.”
“We prepare for events,” Shea continued. “Every event is different, and this is certainly a unique one, but we have a good track record and we have a lot of experience in terms of working through crises.”
The commissioner also noted the number of cops taking sick time was three times the normal rate, with over 3,237 officers out sick as of Wednesday night.
He did not provide an updated number Thursday morning.
Sometime over the weekend, the department will set up an operational task force of about 600 officers whose main function will be replacing cops out sick, Shea said in a video to members of the NYPD posted to Twitter.
“It’s gonna change day-to-day, but the immediacy is backfilling patrol, backfilling numbered squads where that’s appropriate,” he said.
“We’ll also be backfilling numbered squads with detective bureau personnel to keep the day to day job running,” he added, confirming
They’ll also be sending cops on new assignments unique to the coronavirus.
“We’re also going to be taking up tasks that we didn’t before this pandemic struck. We’re gonna be covering hospitals, we’re gonna be covering streets that are closed, we’re gonna be covering parks,” Shea said.
“Be ready, have your uniform ready, be ready to pick up the slack for the men and women next to you that’s out sick, because we’re gonna need you to step in until they come back.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday evening that the NYPD did not need any outside help — despite its climbing sick numbers.