The New York City's health commissioner brutally rejected an urgent city police department's (NYPD) request for 500,000 protective face masks as the scale of the Coronavirus crisis grew. She told a high-ranking police official that "I don't give two rats' asses about your cops."
The comment was made by the NYC health head Dr Oxiris Barbot in March, during a phone conversation with Terence Monahan, the police force's Chief of Department, revealed a source familiar with the matter to the New York Post.
NYPD mask plea rejected
The request for masks was made when the numbers of infection cases started to increase in the city and the NYPD cops were calling out sick with Coronavirus symptoms. As per the source when Monahan asked the health commissioner for 500,000 masks, Barbot reportedly said she could only provide 50,000 and told them, "I don't give two rats' asses about your cops, I need them for others."
The president of the Police Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch expressed concern and wanted Barbot to be fired for the "despicable and unforgivable" comments. As reported by the New York Post he said, "Dr Barbot should be forced to look in the eye of every police family who lost a hero to this virus. Look them in the eye and tell them they aren't worth a rat's ass."
However, as per the source, the NYPD had come to know that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene kept a huge stock of masks, ventilators and other equipment at a New Jersey warehouse. Later, the City Hall arranged to get 250,000 surgical masks for the NYPD after an appeal from the department was made.
It has also come under the spotlight that when the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency came to know about the situation, they provided the NYPD with Tyvek suits and disinfectant.
Safety of NYPD officials
It was also reported by the New York Post that a source who was present at the city Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Brooklyn in March, recalled that he noticed a very tensed moment when Monahan complained to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in front of Barbot about the unavailability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the NYPD officers. The source heard him saying that "For weeks, we haven't gotten an answer" and then Blasio asked, "Oxiris, what is he talking about?"
As per the source, after Blasio came to know about the urgency of the PPE in NYPD, he asked Barbot to "fix it right now."
Department of Health press secretary Patrick Gallahue told the New York Post, "During the height of COVID, while our hospitals were battling to keep patients alive, there was a heated exchange between the two where things were said out of frustration but no harm was wished on anyone."
Gallahue also apologized for the comment made by Barbot, who was absent last week during the press brief in which Blasio announced that the New York City's public hospital system would oversee major testing and tracing program. This announcement came despite the Department of Health, headed up by Barbot, already having run similar programs.
NYPD officers at the high risk of contracting Coronavirus
It needs to be mentioned that face masks can not protect a person from the virus but it can help to stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 from an already infected person which can keep the infection rate down.
However, in March, when the request was made to provide masks for NYPD cops, Daily Mail reported that more than 500 members of the department had tested positive for the virus while 4,000 cops called in sick at the end of the month and on March 28, the first NYPD death from the Coronavirus was reported.
By the end of March, more than 63,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in New York City, with 2,126 virus-related deaths. As per the recent reports, the NYPD has recorded 5,490 COVID-19 cases among its 55,000 officers and civilian workers, as well as 41 deaths.