The number of NYPD police officers who are out sick has dropped two weeks in a row with the commissioner reporting Thursday morning that the sick rate was now at 11.6% – down from a high of 19.8% on April 6.
On Wednesday, April 22 there were 4,549 uniformed members of the NYPD were out sick which accounts for 12.6% of the Department’s uniformed workforce, but Commissioner Dermot Shea said Thursday on a Twitter feed, that number dropped this morning to 11.6%. To date, 4,586 members of the NYPD have tested positive for coronavirus.
As of Wednesday, more than 2,763 members of the NYPD have returned to work full duty after recovering from a positive test for the coronavirus and 1,425 uniformed members plus 367 civilian members are still out sick diagnosed with coronavirus. Shea asked for prayers for the 31 members of the department who have died from COVID-19 – two detectives will be buried this weekend, he said.
Commissioner Shea said it appeared they were “flattening the curve” and they were taking all precautions to keep the numbers of officers from getting sick to a minimum. This includes taking the temperature of every police officer and civilian who enters a police precinct building. Shea said several people have come up with fever when they didn’t even know they had any illness. He said he even has his temperature checked before entering 1 Police Plaza.
He expressed optimism that COVID-19 was slowing down and “the rate of people coming back to work is now over 60 percent, 2/3 are coming back – not all tested – but they are coming back,” he said.
In addition, he said they are hoping to get “anti-body tests” for his entire department saying, “we are waiting for effective tests and I think that is imminent, but we want to know how good they are. I think this is key to get back to normal.”
While officers are coming back to duty and some detective bureaus have been assigned to patrols, he said the department is on the watch for spikes in crime and they are very concerned about commercial burglaries of stores that have been left closed because of coronavirus.
“We have to protect store owners from burglaries – they can’t reopen if their livelihoods are devastated,” said Shea who added that there has been an uptick in burglaries and homicides in Brooklyn “a reminder that the world going around is not stopping.”
In addition, Shea said he has seen some recidivist released from Rikers Island committing new crimes. He emphasized that his officers will rise to the challenge and do what is necessary to stop those crimes.
While there has been an uptick in some areas, overall crime is still way down because most people are still staying home and sheltering in place because of COVID-19.
Shea said they are trying to work out details on promotions to fill in the gaps in leadership. He said instead of having large ceremonies at Police Plaza as in the past, they will hold promotions with smaller groups with social distancing at the Police Academy in Queens.”We have to see what we need to keep the machine moving forward,” he said.
Police continue to visit restaurants, bars, supermarkets, salons and public spaces to remind individuals of the ban on congregating in public spaces and to practice social distancing. This past week, more than 100 summonses were given out at two separate locations for large gatherings, and several people were arrested for guns and drugs.
This story first appeared on amny.com.