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Coronavirus Update: NYPD Officer Tests Positive, Rikers Island Guard Infected

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An NYPD officer has tested positive for the coronavirus as the number of cases continues to spread statewide.

Despite business closures and social distancing efforts, the number of coronavirus cases in the city is sharply increasing each day and showing no signs of slowing down, reports CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

More than 2,300 people are sick in New York State, with more than 1,800 of those cases in New York City, where the death toll has risen to 11.

"That kind of rate of increase, what that's going to do to our hospitals - particularly our ICUs- look, this is something that needs urgent intervention by the federal government and I think we're all going to have to go deeper in changing our approach," said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday morning.



Police sources tell CBS2 at least one officer at the 1st Precinct has tested positive and more than two dozen others are out sick, many feeling symptoms.

The precinct is still open in TriBeCa, but the NYPD does have a contingency plan in place if there's a shortage of manpower.

Officials are investigating whether the officer who tested positive was exposed on the job.

Police sources say 31 officers are out sick, with 17 feeling symptoms.

If there is a shortage, sources say the department will institute mandatory 12-hour shifts, similar to what happened after 9/11.

Commissioner Dermot Shea said there has already been an increased cleaning of all facilities, and officers have staggered work schedules. Members of the NYPD are also being screened and monitored daily by department doctors before returning to work.

Additionally, officers across the city have been given more than 67,000 pairs of gloves, pls more than 26,000 face masks and more on the way. That's along with disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.

As for the FDNY, officials have instituted 24-hour shifts for firefighters at firehouses citywide to limit exposure to its members.

Among the newest COVID-19cases is a corrections officer on Rikers Island, raising concerns for those behind bars.

"This one here is particularly vulnerable because they can't move," said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. "They can't go anywhere, and they're probably not getting all the information that they need."

It has renewed calls to shrink the jail population, halting the arrest of low-level offenders and releasing those who are most susceptible to the disease.

"If we fail to do so, the increased death toll will be on our hands and no amount of soap will wash it away," said City Council member Brad Lander.

There's a heightened sense of urgency to do more as lawmakers try to move faster than the disease, just hoping something will slow it down and lessen its already devastating impact.

De Blasio addressed the concerns on WCBS Newsradio Wednesday.

"In the next 48 hours, we will identify any inmates who we think need to be brought out either because of their own health conditions, if they have any pre-existing conditions, et cetera, or because the charges were minor and we think it's appropriate to bring them out in this context," he said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text 692692 | Westchester Testing Call 1(888)-364-3065 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Case Tracker | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211


As the number of cases grows, city officials are considering more drastic measures.

After outrage poured in online, alternate side parking is suspended today through March 24, but drivers will still have to pay the meters.

Want to take an Uber, Lyft or Via? Pool options are no longer allowed. The mayor says couples and families who live together can still ride together.

Macy's, Nordstrom and other major department stores have all decided to shut down for at least two weeks.

"It kind of just becomes a little more real. I think we've all seen pictures on social media about Times Square and everything slowing down," Midtown worker Stephanie Monroy told CBS2. "But working close by and seeing - I was here for the grand opening, so seeing the amount of people that were here that entire weekend and then closed. They always have lines for sneaker releases and all these other events that they have. So it's a little scary."

Restaurants and bars are only allowed to do takeout or delivery, but schools and many businesses have closed.

Stunning numbers show just how many New Yorkers are working from home and staying in. The MTA says 3.7 million fewer people rode the subway Tuesday compared to the same day last year.

De Blasio warns it will get worse before it gets better. He wants to keep people home as much as possible, but says it will crush the city's most vulnerable.

"How do you ensure not only a consistent food supply, but it gets to everyone who needs it regardless of ability to pay? How do you ensure that medicines, including prescription medicines, get to those who need them regardless of ability to pay?," he said. "We have to figure out that part of the equation. We're not there yet."

The mayor also asks anyone with health care skills, like retired workers, to come forward and help with the crisis.

In the last 24 hours, 1,000 New Yorkers who are former medical personnel have volunteered to help hospitals during the outbreak.

Starting Thursday, 5,000 tests can be given a day, with the most critically ill given priority.

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