New York, NY – The New York Police Department (NYPD) sent out a video to all of the police force advising them it was okay to “keep working” even if they’ve been exposed to coronavirus, and the rank-and-file is not happy.
A copy of the video was leaked to the New York Post on Wednesday, and featured NYPD Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo giving officers an informational talk about COVID-19 and how the department was handling the pandemic.
“We learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic every day, and as we do, our best practices to keep members of the service safe evolve,” Chief Pichardo said in the video.
“At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and New York City Department of Health, in keeping with the guidance to health care workers, are recommending that a member of the service who has close contact — and that’s defined as less than six feet for more than a few minutes — to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, well, they can keep working,” the chief said. “They just need to take some extra precautions.”
The precautions Chief Pichardo referred to were distancing, washing hands, and using hand sanitizer, the New York Post reported.
NYPD has provided only one face mask and one small bottle of hand sanitizer to every member of the police force.
“It’s a great way to spread a pandemic,” an NYPD official told Blue Lives Matter. “One of our precincts already has almost 20 percent out sick. It’s not like officers aren’t getting the coronavirus.”
An officer in the 1st Precinct tested positive for coronavirus and 31 other officers in that precinct have since called out sick, the New York Post reported.
Officials said 17 of those 31 officers have reported flu-like symptoms.
The precinct’s commander and executive officer are both on the list of those who’ve called out sick, the New York Post reported.
An NYPD spokesman said the out-sick list amounted to 17 percent of the command’s staff.
“That’s a very large percent of the precinct out sick,” he said, according to the New York Post.
Sources told Blue Lives Matter that the rank-and-file doesn’t like the way the brass is handling the inevitable coronavirus exposures, mostly because they don’t trust them.
“The department is covering its a–. Right now we’re in cover-up mode,” one official told Blue Lives Matter. “They know that if enough of the department goes out, they’re going to have a crisis.”
“They’re going to have a crisis anyway because schools are closed and people are holed up in their homes, and domestic violence is going to go through the roof,” he continued. “They’re scared s–tless because they’ve done so much to handcuff the police that now when they really need them, the officers may not be there. It’s the Pied Piper asking for his pay.”
The official told Blue Lives Matter that officers will keep dropping like flies as the pandemic spreads.
“The moment anyone gets the sniffles, I predict they’re going to be calling out sick,” he explained. “I think the number of guys going sick is going to skyrocket. It’s bad enough that we’re forced to expose ourselves because of the very nature of our jobs, but they’re saying coronavirus may do significant lung damage.”
Doctors in Hong Kong have found that two-to-three coronavirus survivors in a group of 12 had suffered reductions in lung capacity, Business Insider reported.
“Some patients might have around a drop of 20 to 30% in lung function” after full recovery, Hong Kong Hospital Authority Infection Disease Centre Medical Director Owen Tsang Tak-yin said.
Tsang said scans of nine patients’ lungs also “found patterns similar to frosted glass in all of them, suggesting there was organ damage,” according to Business Insider.
“So now the other thing the department is going to have to contend with is officers wondering if they are going to pull another 9/11 where they fail to support the officers who get sick from doing police work during the pandemic,” the NYPD source told Blue Lives Matter. “That’s definitely something going through everyone’s heads. Are they going to allow people to claim line-of-duty status if they get serious lung damage from coronavirus or are they going to say it came from something else like they tried to do with all the 9/11 first responders?”
The NYPD official also told Blue Lives Matter that the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement Wednesday that children and babies might in fact be more affected by coronavirus than initially believed will cause some officers to pause.
The head of WHO’s Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis Unit, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said a recent study revealed that a number of children in China became severely or critically ill and at least one child died, CNBC reported.
“What we need to prepare for is the possibility that children can also experience severe disease,” Dr. Kerkhove said at a press conference on March 18.
That news was sobering for officers who weren’t previously worried about their work exposure jeopardizing their children’s health.
“It puts things into a different perspective knowing there’s more at risk than just making my kids carriers,” the NYPD official told Blue Lives Matter in a serious tone. “Now we know that kids are getting sick – really sick – from this, it may make officers think twice about how much they want to expose themselves before they go home to their families. It’s not like this is going to be over soon.”
As for how to deal with being exposed to coronavirus, NYPD has been woefully lacking in the guidance to its officers, the New York Post reported.
“If you start to develop symptoms — such as fever or coughing — call the medical division and go out sick,” an internal NYPD memo instructed.
NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins accused the police department of “looking at cops as canaries in coal mines” and not being adequately prepared to protect the force, the New York Post reported.
“Make no mistake,” Mullins said. “The police unions will not allow our members to suffer another 9/11 disaster by being used as pawns.”