Not even the New York Police Department is immune to the coronavirus, with 52 members of the force now testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
NYPD chief Dermot Shea shared the news during a Friday evening news conference, but added that at this point, only one of those 52 have been hospitalized with pneumonia. Others are recovering at home. Shea didn't share where any of the positive cases originated from in the city.
"When you look at the police department sick, there's been a noticeable increase in the last four days, and something we are watching closely," Shea said. "We remain very well resourced to hand any and all obstacles that come our way, but we are watching closely."
While the 52 number might seem high for a single department, the NYPD has more than 36,000 uniformed officers, and another 19,000 civilian employees. Still, Shea added, it shows how much officers and others working in the department are on the front lines.
In the past week, however, crime has dropped across the city, the chief added, primarily because crowds are disappearing from the street. Calls to 911 have dropped, except for those related to illness. That has allowed officers to focus more on other areas, including schools and enrichment centers, which are expected to provide three meals a day for any child under 18.
"What are we doing now? We're paying extremely close attention to areas where people are gathering, and for good reason," Shea said. "Grocery stores are at the top of our list, as our hospitals, schools and many facilities that will be open for both children, and for pikcing up breakfast and lunch."
Police officers are focused on 500 "large establishments" throughout the city, Shea added, and so far, law enforcement has not encountered any serious problems in keeping people from congregating.
"We have issued very few summonses to any establishment," Shea said. "It's all about education, and it is about working with each other, and it's about social distancing."
Earlier Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an order that would essentially shut down the state for all non-essential people beginning Sunday at 8 p.m. While many would be allowed to buy food or to exercise on their own outside, the general order is to keep as many people home as possible to help stunt the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
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