As the number of positive cases of the coronavirus continues to accelerate in New York City, the New York Post has reported on the growing number of law enforcement personnel that are joining the tens of thousands of New Yorkers that have contracted the virus and are now fighting off respiratory complications.
Although commuter traffic has decreased due to the shutdowns, transportation police officers are still working in poorly ventilated, often underground stations that continue to be filled with remaining “essential employees” going to work, people who have been ignoring the social distancing recommendations, and homeless people.
NYPD, Metro Transit Authority, and Amtrak Police have all reported positive cases of the coronavirus amid complaints of dwindling supplies and expired equipment. This is compounded by the large increase in sick calls and mandatory quarantines while spouses who work in the healthcare industry await test results.
Sam Mintz, a journalist for Politico tweeted about the situation brewing at Penn Station.
The police union also says its officers are being asked to forego raises which are supposed to go into effect next week, as Amtrak cuts costs across the board.
— Sam Mintz (@samjmintz) March 24, 2020
Similar to healthcare workers, first responders have described having little to no protective gear to keep themselves safe while continuing to serve their communities.
The New York Post further explored how the coronavirus is impacting the law enforcement officers in NYC.
Nearly 100 NYPD officers and other department employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, with the NYPD informing detectives that they might have to replace sick beat cops in the instance of a worker shortage.
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The MTA, meanwhile, has is slashing service by 25 percent after fielding a spike in coronavirus-related sick calls. At least 23 MTA transit workers on subways and buses had tested positive for the virus has of last week, the authority said.
Amtrak’s Police Department had its first cop test positive on Monday, according to a source, who added that three other Amtrak cops are out sick with a fever. The confirmed infected employee last worked at Penn Station last Wednesday, the source said.
“I’m surprised it took this long, considering we work in a space with no windows and ventilation full of homeless people coughing all day,” the source told The Post.
“Our bosses don’t want us to wear a mask because he doesn’t want us to scare the passengers, and our hand sanitizers expired in 2015,” the source went on.
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As of March 23, the Department of Homeland Security had reported that 11 of the 31 TSA employees that have tested positive for the coronavirus worked at the airports in the New York area. A particular concern was expressed for LaGuardia, which had the most recent exposure from a TSA employee that worked in multiple terminals before the illness kept him out of work.
Hospitals across the country have resorted to sterilizing used masks and re-using ventilators in order to treat patients while new equipment is reportedly being manufactured.
The practice of re-using protective gear and expired sanitizers are becoming the norm and the growing number of infected first responders mirrors the healthcare industry in highlighting the ineffectiveness and deadly risk of relying on these practices.