Twenty days of decline in number of NYPD officers out sick fuels optimism, but challenges remain

Police and EMS transport a sick officer to a hospital this afternoon. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The NYPD is now 20 days into a decline in the number of police officers out sick, most of whom were diagnosed with the coronavirus, officials say.

This comes as new pressures are on the department to crack down on the homeless on the subways and requests to ensure the safety of more than 40 miles of closed streets requested by the mayor and the City Council.

On Tuesday, April 28, 2,891 uniformed members of the NYPD were on sick report, which accounts for 8 percent of the department’s uniformed workforce. To date, 4,895 members of the NYPD have tested positive for coronavirus. As of Tuesday, April 28, 3,772 members of the NYPD have returned to work full duty after recovering from a positive test for the coronavirus. Meanwhile, 805 uniformed members plus 281 civilian members are still out sick diagnosed with coronavirus.

Despite the decrease in the number of NYPD members out sick, 37 members of the service have died due to coronavirus-related illnesses. At the height of the crisis, 19.8 percent of the department was out sick.

Commissioner Dermot Shea said his officers will be putting more emphasis on the subways, where increased number of homeless have been living because of COVID-19 and because there are dramatically fewer people using the subways because they are sheltering at home or are unemployed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo complained about the condition today and said it was essential workers who needed to use the subways and he called on the city to remove the homeless from trains and stations where they do not exercise social distancing or use masks.

In addition, Mayor Bill de Blasio approved a request by the City Council to close 40 miles of streets to vehicular traffic. Shea said his officers will work to ensure the safety of pedestrians who will use those streets.

Officers 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 story originally appeared on amny.com.