A growing number of firefighters in America’s coronavirus epicenter are testing positive.
The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) now has 46 confirmed cases, as its commissioner, Daniel Nigro, told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer. The news comes as the city grapples with an explosion of infections in the civilian population and a lack of protective equipment for health care workers and first responders.
46 cases of coronavirus in FDNY
Coronavirus has killed hundreds of Americans, infected thousands, and resulted in layoffs for countless others. Beyond the immediate threats to health and the economy, the coronavirus has brought disruptions to the flow of modern life, as businesses close and all but “non-essential” workers in places such as New York state are ordered to stay home.
Where does that leave policemen, firefighters and health care workers? In the line of fire, of course. In New York City, now the epicenter of the outbreak with roughly 15,000 cases as of Tuesday, infections have risen among first responders. The city’s fire department now has 46 documented cases, Nigro said.
As the rest of the world has come to an unnatural rest, the FDNY is getting more calls than before as millions of New Yorkers stay holed up at home, Nigro added. Firefighters are being asked to work if they don’t show symptoms, he said. Some who have COVID-19 may not show symptoms, according to health officials.
Critical lack of supplies
The New York City area is now the American epicenter of the global crisis. As the Big Apple battles the pandemic, those on the front lines of the fight are having to contend with a severe lack of medical supplies. Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly warned that the city could run out of facemasks and other critical equipment in just weeks.
Those in the heat of the battle, like cops, firefighters and EMS workers, have also complained about equipment and supply shortages, the New York Post reports. Nigro put the problem in stark terms, telling Fox that the FDNY has just enough supplies to last a few more weeks, not months.
New York state had 25,000 coronavirus cases, roughly half of those in the entire country, as of Tuesday. President Donald Trump activated the National Guard in New York and two other states Sunday, as state and local leaders pleaded for help with getting supplies and setting up hospital stations.
Makeshift hospitals are being established at New York’s massive Javits Center as well as at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury and the Westchester County Center, according to The Hill.
Big Apple lockdown
The “city that never sleeps” has also suffered disruptions to law enforcement, with double the number of cops than usual calling in sick. Some 100 NYPD officers have tested positive for COVID-19, the New York Post reported. Meanwhile, New York has started releasing some low-level offenders from jail as the virus spreads through detention facilities like Rikers Island.
Nigro commented on the “surreal,” eerie quiet in the ordinarily restless metropolis, which has come to resemble the uncanny silence observed in Italy.
“Now we have it right here — the same thing — in formerly busy areas like Times Square. It is still, for my liking, too many people out and about. I would like to see fewer and fewer people out because that is how we are going to beat this,” Nigri delcared.