The New York Police Department is down about 15% of its uniformed officers amid the global coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the city and state, according to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.
That means more than 5,600 workers are on sick leave in the NYPD, which is roughly five times the normal number, Shea told a Facebook Live Q&A, Newsweek reported Tuesday.
“We’re also going to make sure that you’re symptom free for seven days from the beginning of when the symptoms took place, that’s the basic rule every time we bring somebody back,” Shea said. “We have had 17 people, just now since Friday, come back to work, that have tested positive for COVID-19, and they’re back, they’re better and they’re jumping in to fill the place while others go down.”
New York state has almost 76,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date. That figure is almost four times the next highest state in the U.S. – New Jersey (almost 20,000 and obviously connected to NYC – and more than all but three other countries in the world.
Four NYPD employees have died from the coronavirus in the past few days, per the report.
The NYPD “sick desk” was forced to add phone lines to handle the increase in call-outs, Newsweek reported.
“We normally have X amount, let’s say, of people calling into our sick desk in a day, we’re now at 5 times that, that are out sick,” Shea said.
“Thousands and thousands and thousands of calls into our sick desk [Monday]. What was happening was people weren’t even able to get through, the lines couldn’t hold it,” he added. “In a span of two or three days our Information Technology Bureau, working with health services . . . basically added 10 to 15 new lines, just to minimize the wait times there.”