‘Dr. Barbot should be forced to look in the eye of every police family who lost a hero to this virus…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot was under heavy fire after word broke of her derision toward the city’s law-enforcement during the coronavirus pandemic.
Barbot rejected a request from the New York Police Department for surgical masks in late March, when the health crisis was climbing toward its peak in New York City.
“I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops,” she told NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, according to the New York Post.
The NYPD had asked the city to supply each of its officers with protective face masks so they could continue to serve the city’s residents safely. But Barbot refused, arguing that she would give the NYPD no more than 50,000 masks.
“I need them for others,” she reportedly said.
The city’s police department includes an estimated 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees—totaling around 55,000. It is unclear whether the requested masks were reusable.
At the time, an increasing number of NYPD officers were calling in sick after reporting COVID-19 symptoms. Since then, there have been at least 5,490 cases of COVID-10 among the NYPD’s officers and administrative staff members. As of April 19, at least 29 NYPD employees had died from the coronavirus.
Shortly after Barbot’s remarks, NYPD officials learned that the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had been stashing masks, ventilators and others medical supplies in a New Jersey warehouse. The city claimed it was reserving those supplies for heath-care workers, but Monahan insisted to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that his officers were in just as much need, the Post reported.
De Blasio agreed with Monahan, according to a source who witnessed the exchange, and told Barbot to “fix this” and supply the NYPD with surgical masks. She has since been absent from the city’s press briefings, the Post noted.
Barbot has not commented on the exchange, but the Department of Health did release a statement clarifying that what had transpired between Barbot and Monahan did not reflect the city’s views.
“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,” Department of Health press secretary Patrick Gallahue said in a statement, noting that Barbot had apologized for her “contribution to the exchange.”
Barbot’s comments, however, are “despicable and unforgivable,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, a prominent New York City police union.
“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,” he said.