NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Officials are sounding the alarm as the situation grows more dire by the day in New York City, which at more than 15,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus remains the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea revealed Tuesday that 211 of those sickened are members of the force. Approximately 177 are uniformed officers and 34 are civilian members. Shea also said 2,774 are currently out sick, which accounts for 7.6% of the department’s uniformed workforce.
"It's a trend as you talk about what we've seen and what we're trying to do with social distancing, and lowering the curve what we're seeing internally as an agency on the frontlines is we are still on an upward climb," Shea said.
The news comes days after it was revealed that NYPD officers were being encouraged to keep working despite coming into contact with a COVID-19 patient. Chief of Department Terence Monahan said officers were approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue working as they are being equipped with the necessary gear to prevent infection.
As of 6 p.m Tuesday, there were 15,597 positive cases of COVID-19 citywide and 192 fatalities. Currently there are 4,667 cases in Queens 3,013 in Manhattan, 4,407 in Brooklyn 2,505 in the Bronx, and 999 in Staten Island. There are at least 2,850 people hospitalized. Of those individuals, at least 660 were in the ICU.
The city only expects the numbers to continue to grow, and the White House on Tuesday cautioned anyone who left New York City amid the outbreak to self-quarantine for 14 days after departing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday said the current amount of medical equipment in New York City is unlikely to be enough to get the city through the next two weeks.
"We do not expect this to go quickly," the mayor said. "I wish we did, but we don't."
Meanwhile, de Blasio said 2,400 ventilators are on their way to the city, but about 15,000 are desperately needed.
The mayor reiterated Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for more ventilators from the federal government and promise to pass along the ventilators to other cities and states as soon as they can.
"A ventilator will be the difference between life and death for thousands of New Yorkers," de Blasio said.
De Blasio said they were working through legal issues with the goal of releasing all prisoners over the age of 70 or with a pre-existing condition. So far, 75 people have been released. There are more than 5,000 people in New York City jails.
He will also release about 300 inmates who have been convicted of misdemeanors and non-violent felonies who have less than a year on their sentence.
De Blasio also said that NYPD would be warning and education members of the public who are not obeying social distancing methods in parks throughout the city.
He said that if residents do not obey rules, the city may have to close playgrounds. If rules are not followed by the end of Saturday, the city will shut down playgrounds.
He also announced a pilot program to close two streets per borough to allow for more pedestrian streets. They will be open on Thursday, and will be enforced by the police.
The mayor also honored the playwright Terrence McNally, a personal friend who passed away from coronavirus on Tuesday.
De Blasio said that the city is extending alternate side parking for another week, through Mar. 31. He said they expect to continue monitoring the situation on a week-by-week basis.
He also announced that Citi Bike will offer a free month of the bike shares will be available for essential workers.
The mayor said that the Office of Management and Budget will begin a saving program and put aside at least $1.3 billion.