Bronx, NY – An NYPD officer tested positive for COVID-19 just days after the department’s medical division told her to wrap up her sick leave and get back to work.
When the 46th Precinct officer began feeling ill on March 17, she called in sick to work for the next several days, the New York Post reported.
“She had a headache, minor fever, cough, body ache, chills, congestion,” a source told the paper.
The officer went to an appointment with the NYPD’s medical division on March 20, and somewhat seemed to be on the mend at that time, according to the source.
Two days later, the officer was back in uniform after being told by NYPD doctors to get back to work, the New York Post reported.
Her positive COVID-19 test results came back positive on Wednesday – days after she had been cleared to return to the streets.
Approximately seven percent of the department was out on medical leave on Wednesday, Vanity Fair reported.
If that number hits 16 percent, an emergency plan including mandatory 12-hour shifts is expected to be enacted, an NYPD officer told Vanity Fair.
Another officer said that several officers contracted the novel coronavirus after NYPD Transit Chief Ed Delatorre visited their station earlier in March.
Chief Delatorre later tested positive for COVID-19.
“They were told to continue working until they [got] a fever,” the officer told Vanity Fair. “The NYPD got confirmation they tested positive, and instead of staying home and [being given] sick time, they were ordered back to work until their symptoms worsened.”
A sergeant who fell ill and was told to go back to work began coughing up blood while on shift, Vanity Fair reported.
He later tested positive for COVID-19.
Another officer said that the department has essentially done nothing to provide them with personal protective gear.
He said that all of the estimated 200 officers at his command were given one single-use mask and one pair of blue gloves approximately two weeks ago.
Although the masks are no longer effective, officers have continued to re-use them.
“[We’re] being thrown to the wolves,” an NYPD officer told Vanity Fair. “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.”
They have also allegedly been provided with ineffective cleaning supplies.
“We’re getting screwed big time,” the officer railed. “Guys are getting sick left and right. Instead of getting us real cleaning supplies, they made us a vinegar solution in a spray bottle that we all share. It isn’t killing corona. I went out and bought my own supplies.”
An NYPD spokesperson said that the department’s medical division has been doing a “great job,” the New York post reported.
“They are following the guidelines on a case-by-case to the best of their ability,” the spokesman told the paper.
But allegations that the department has allowed the pandemic to spread like wildfire through the department abound.
“This all goes back to commissioner thinking that people can still work…and Chief [Fausto] Pichardo,” a source told the New York Post. “Let’s see them come to a precinct and do patrol.”
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has instructed citizens to remain at home “until 14 days after the last potential exposure,” New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio has ensured the public that officers will be “right back in uniform, right back at their posts” after seven to 10 days, the New York Post reported.
The Bronx officer who later tested positive for COVID-19 was sent back to work in less than seven days.
NYPD officers said that the department has not been upfront with them about what is happening inside their own department with regards to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Their bosses went out sick and they didn’t even tell them,” a police source told the New York Post. “If there are 31 cops out sick in a precinct with 500 cops, there’s a lot more who are infected. They all have contact with their supervisors.”
“You shouldn’t have to find out through the news,” the source railed.
A total of 177 uniformed officers and 34 civilian NYPD employees had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday evening, the National Review reported.
Over 3,200 NYPD officers were out on sick leave on Wednesday, according to the New York Post.
An NYPD official told Blue Lives Matter on the condition of anonymity that precinct officials have been given a spreadsheet to keep updated with the number of officers in their precincts who have actually tested positive.
“A spreadsheet was sent out that told us what to include, and specifically what not to include in the data we are sending up the chain,” the official said.
“If you’re showing symptoms or you’re under a quarantine, that doesn’t count for the numbers the department is having us track,” the source told Blue Lives Matter. “They only want to know about a positive test result. They don’t even want to know from the precincts who is showing symptoms and who has been ordered by a doctor to quarantine.”
He said police officers who have not officially tested positive for COVID-19 have been told to adhere to social distancing recommendations as much as possible while doing their jobs but not self-isolate and quarantine themselves for 14 days in accordance with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines unless a doctor has specifically instructed the officer to stay at home.
The official clarified that officers who have contacted the NYPD’s medical division to notify them that they’ve been instructed by a doctor to stay home are not being told they must work anyway.
“If you call up and ask to be quarantined – I haven’t heard of anybody who has been ordered to go back on the street,” he told Blue Lives Matter. “But for the stats they’re collecting to share with the public, they don’t even want to know who is showing symptoms and who has been ordered by a doctor to be quarantined.”
The official said “in my opinion, if an officer has symptoms, it should be recorded as such until you know that officer has tested negative for coronavirus.”
He also said that when an officer tests positive for coronavirus and notifies his precinct commander, nothing is being done immediately to safeguard other officers.
The official said they notify their overhead command of the infection and those officials schedule a deep cleaning “as soon as possible,” which means when the station house can be fit into the long list of city offices and facilities that require cleaning because of known exposures.
“We do not evacuate the precinct – at best they tell you to spray everything down with Lysol,” he told Blue Lives Matter. “One precinct I know of has an officer who tested positive for coronavirus and multiple officers who’ve showed symptoms and had to be quarantined. But that precinct hasn’t been deep cleaned yet and everybody else is still working in there and getting exposed to whatever is living on those surfaces.”
Another NYPD source told Blue Lives Matter that the department hasn’t done much to help the officers who were exposed and have developed symptoms.
“The department isn’t doing anything to help officers get the tests,” he explained. “They might point you in the right direction but the process is so difficult that they might as well not be doing anything for you. Most of the guys who have been tested went through their personal doctors.”