Oxiris Barbot, health commissioner in New York City, rejected a request during the early coronavirus pandemic to supply the police with a large supply of masks, the New York Post reported Wednesday.
In a phone call in late March, NYPD chief of the department Terence Monahan Barbot asked for a delivery of 500,000 masks for the officers. Barbot said she could only pay 50,000.
“I’m not going to *** your agents,” Barbot told Monahan. “I need them for others.”
That conversation came before the NYPD reported it first death from a Coronavirus police officer on March 28. Since the outbreak of the city, 5,490 officers and civilian personnel from the NYPD have contracted a coronavirus, out of a total of approximately 55,000 personnel. Police have seen 41 deaths from the disease.
At Monahan’s request, the NYPD learned that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had a collection of masks and other medical equipment stored in a New Jersey warehouse. The police managed to get around 250,000 masks for officers and employees.
In comments to the Post, Secretary of State Press Secretary Patrick Gallahue said Barbot had “apologized for her contribution to the exchange.”
“During the peak of COVID, as our hospitals fought to keep patients alive, there was a heated exchange between the two where things were said in frustration, but no one was hurt,” said Gallahue.
While the NYPD declined to comment, Patrick Lynch, head of the Police Benevolent Association, said that Barbot’s comments were “despicable and unforgivable.” U.S. representative Max Rose, a Democrat whose district includes Staten Island and southern Brooklyn, also criticized Barbot.
“This kind of attitude explains so much about City Hall’s general response to this crisis,” Rose wrote on Twitter. Dr. Barbot shouldn’t be fired, she should be fired. “