NYPD Announces First Employee Coronavirus Death: 'We Lost One of Our Own'

New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Dermot Shea on Thursday evening announced the first death in their ranks from coronavirus-related complications.

In a statement emailed to Newsweek, Shea expressed that the NYPD is "deeply saddened" over their "first Coronavirus pandemic casualty." The deceased, Dennis C. Dickson, was a custodian assigned to Police HQ and a 14-year veteran of the NYPD family, he said.

Dickson passed away on Thursday at Kings County Hospital.

"Mr. Dickson was a revered member of the custodial staff at Police Headquarters once spending 17 days at the headquarters building during Super Storm Sandy assisting with emergency cleanup operations," Shea added. "Mr. Dickson was again on the front line cleaning and disinfecting 1 Police Plaza so that our personnel could be here safely, allowing them to continue to serve the people of the City of New York."

Following Dickson's death, Shea commemorated the NYPD member in a statement shared on Twitter. "Today we lost one of our own: City Custodial Assistant Dennis Dickson, who faithfully served with the NYPD since 2006, has passed away from complications related to the coronavirus," the commissioner wrote. "Our deepest sympathies & all of our prayers go out to Dennis' colleagues & family."

NYPD police officers are seen in Times Square hours ahead of the implementation of 'New York State on PAUSE' executive order as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 22, 2020 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty

As of Thursday, at least 350 members of the NYPD had tested positive for coronavirus as the city continues to struggle with containment of the new disease. Dickson, reportedly a 62-year-old male who had a pre-existing heart condition, is the first NYPD member to die from COVID-19.

New York's coronavirus outbreak has seeped into the city's police force and is spreading fast. The figure climbed to roughly 350 today, after the NYPD confirmed over 200 employees had tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The U.S. surpassed 69,000 cases of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 on Thursday morning, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. About half—more than 33,000—of those cases are in the Empire State, with at least 363 dead, the most deaths in a single state.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said roughly 15 percent of the cases in his state require hospitalization. He has called for the federal government, private businesses and members of the public to help in any way they can.

Cuomo has also urged people to practice social distancing and stay at home, advising that the worst is still to come. "It's going to go up, it's going to reach a high point, it's going to tip, it's going to go back down," he said. "We're still on the way up the mountain."

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows the rise in COVID-19 cases in New York state, compared to Washington and California.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York, Washington,California
This infographic shows the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York state, Washington state and California.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.