Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed the preliminary results of FDNY/EMS and NYPD members who were screened for coronavirus antibodies and tested positive.
The preliminary antibody study showed that 17.1 percent of FDNY/EMT members and 10.5 percent of NYPD members tested were found to have COVID-19 antibodies. The downstate average is of about 18 percent, according to Cuomo.
"The number is much higher in the FNDY/EMTs. We believe that's because the EMT number is driving it up," Cuomo said. "But, we have to do more numbers and more research to determine that. Remember the EMTs, they are the frontline. They are the ones who are there assisting the person in the closest contact in many ways -- FDNY also. But, we want to find out exactly what is going on."
The governor also said that testing is important because it is a way for first responders to take care of themselves and their health.
"I want to make sure that we do what we need to do to protect them. That they have the equipment, they have the PPE, they have have our respect, they have our gratitude. And I also want to make sure we’re testing so we get them the results of tests so they can be taking care of themselves. I also want to see if we have a significant problem in any of those frontline workforces," Cuomo said.
According to the United Firefighters Association NYC President Gerard Fitzgerald, the test results show "what we have known all along" -- that there are asymptomatic individuals who had the virus and didn't know it.
According to Fitzgerald, overall, around 2,800 firefighters and fire officers have called out sick due to the coronavirus.
Fitzgerald hopes that the preliminary results are the impetus behind providing more testing for first responders and those on the frontline.
"I'm hoping for more testing," he said, adding that it is just a small segment of department members that received the testing. This first round of antibody tests from the state tested 1,000 firefighters.
News 4 New York also reached out to the NYPD via email for comments regarding the preliminary results of the antibody study.
The governor also noted during his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday that an initial 1,000 transit workers will also be tested this week.
"We are also going to do the same thing with the transit workers, the people who drive the buses the subways, who clean the buses and the subways," he said. "Without those buses and subways the essential workers couldn’t get to work…. But those frontline workers are at risk. So we are going to do additional testing for the transit workers."
New York City will offer free antibody tests, courtesy of the federal government, to more than 150,000 healthcare workers and first responders starting next week. Tests will be available at hospitals, police precincts, firehouses and other central locations. It's an imperfect test, but it indicates whether someone may have had the virus and recovered -- and Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes it will help first responders who do test positive for the antibody feel more confident at work.
Nearly two months into the region's coronavirus pandemic, New York released new data Monday showing that nearly 15 percent of those tested had antibodies to the virus — suggesting as many as 2.9 million New Yorkers may have been infected at some point, fully 10 times what the state has reported officially.
The numbers are even higher in New York City — antibody testing found a positivity rate of 24.7 percent in city samples, suggesting almost 2.1 million city residents could have been infected at some point.