Coronavirus takes toll on New York's public servants

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New York City Councilman Stephen Levin, (D), says the containment measures in the metropolitan area must be more ‘draconian’ in order to properly contain coronavirus.

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NEW YORK — The coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on New York City’s civil servants.

Two people who helped keep New York moving during the crisis, bus operator Oliver Cyrus, 61, and train conductor Peter Petrassi, 49, were killed by the virus Thursday, according to their union.

Bicyclists and a pedestrian pass through a quiet Manhattan street on March 26, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano called the two deaths in one day “a terrible and incredibly sad loss.”

He called transit workers “true heroes” for continuing to work during the pandemic and he demanded the Metropolitan Transportation Authority provide transportation workers with protective masks.

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“Dedication and duty does not mean using transit workers as cannon fodder,” Utano said.

The New York Police Department announced its first coronavirus death on Thursday. Dennis Dickson, a department janitor, died from complications of the disease, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

Dickson worked for the department since 2006 and spent 17 straight days cleaning up police headquarters after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The department, even as it has been tasked with helping police New York’s social distancing rules, also continues to see a spike in absences. On Thursday, 3,674 officers called in sick, accounting for about 10% of the force. As of Thursday, 351 NYPD personnel had tested positive for the virus.

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The department’s top counterterrorism official, Deputy Commissioner John Miller, was hospitalized Thursday, awaiting test results after experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

A HEAVY TOLL

U.S. National Guard member stands beside crates of medical supplies at the Jacob Javits Center, in New York on March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

COVID-19 has attacked New York with increasing force.

On Tuesday, roughly 3,000 people were hospitalized with the virus in New York state. That number rose to 3,800 Wednesday and then leaped to 5,300 by Thursday morning.

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Health care workers treating the sick are worried they too will become infected. Many are feeling the emotional strain of caring for patients isolated from their families. Meanwhile, officials have scrambled to try and bring enough breathing machines to New York to care for growing legions of patients.

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