NEW YORK — Whether it’s crime fighting or doing community work, it’s not easy for NYPD officers to social distance and cops are not immune to COVID-19.
With an overall spike in cases of people sick with the virus, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said he is not surprised by an increased amount of sick calls from the police force.
“What happens to New Yorkers happens to us as well, and we are definitely seeing it hit us hard,” he said.
Shea confirmed nearly 8% of the department’s workforce was out sick on Tuesday, many of them experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Out of the more than 2,700 members out sick, 342 of them tested positive for COVID-19.
Police Officer Kateri Clarke is a member of the Rapid Response Unit, and while she hasn’t been sick, she says policing during a pandemic has its challenges.
“I wasn’t surprised about the increase. The cases are rising, so you expect it to rise on our side as well.” Clarke said. “We social distance as much as we can, but still have to be up close and personal with the public.”
The department recently rolled out a stricter mask policy, requiring all officers to mask up — regardless of their vaccine status. So far, 88% of the department’s employees are fully vaccinated.
The department said the number of sick calls won’t impact public safety for now, and Shea said he believes things will turn around soon.