NYPD Chief Doing OK After COVID Diagnosis, of Symptoms Says, Breathing Is Main Concern

Shea getting COVID raises renewed concerns of police staff and police unions at a time the governor is withholding vaccines from the police but is giving it to other first responders

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What to Know

  • NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea says he's mostly doing OK after testing positive for COVID and continues to work remotely
  • He described "bad flu" symptoms including chills and aches but said the "breathing" piece is the one people have to be most careful with
  • The comments on NY1 came the day New York state opened up vaccine eligibility to tens of thousands of NYPD members; Shea said he expected 400 to have had their doses by 7 a.m. Monday

Days after Dermot Shea became the latest high-profile figure in New York City to test positive for coronavirus, the NYPD commissioner says he's feeling OK.

It's the breathing "you've got to be careful with," Shea told NY1 Monday. He also is dealing with symptoms he described as representative of a "bad flu," including chills and aches, but overall says he is faring OK. He is working remotely.

Shea's positive COVID test came back Thursday; he had tested negative Monday after not feeling well the previous weekend, a senior official had said. According to a senior official, 463 NYPD members have tested positive amid the pandemic, with three members hospitalized. More than 1,000 are out with flu-like symptoms.

New Jersey firefighters and police officers will begin to be inoculated Thursday with doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The same can't be said for those in New York City as the mayor clash with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. NBC New York's Katherine Creag reports.

Six NYPD detectives, a police officer and 40 civilian employees have died of the virus. Former Transportation Chief William Morris died of COVID-19 in June. John Miller, the deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, was hospitalized with the disease in March and has returned to work.

The diagnosis for Shea came amid a week of feuding between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo about who is prioritized first in the vaccination line. De Blasio announced 25,000 of 35,000 uniformed NYPD personnel were eligible early last week under revised guidelines, a contention Cuomo shot down barely an hour later.

On Friday, Cuomo reversed course, opening up eligibility for most NYPD personnel, along with teachers, public transit workers and people older than 75, as of Monday. They are part of vaccination Phase 1B, which is the largest group.

In a memo sent from the commissioner to members of the department and obtained by NBC New York, Shea says the NYPD's medical staff is ready to begin the large task of vaccinating everyone in the coming days and weeks. Plans to administer doses would be forthcoming he said, while reiterating his recommendation that all members take the vaccine when it becomes available.

Shea told NY1 he expected 400 NYPD officers to receive their initial vaccine doses by 7 a.m. Monday.

“Definitely eager to get it … We’re New Yorkers, what you see in the general population, you see with us," Shea said. He also noted there would be skepticism among some NYPD members, as there has been with the general public.

Separately, Shea said he "was disgusted by what I saw" as it relates to last week's Capitol Hill riots. He said there was one investigation ongoing into an NYPD member's possible attendance at those demonstrations but the department has yet to confirm that individual's involvement or lack of involvement.

The police commissioner also affirmed his intention to send members of the force to assist with security when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

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