More than 500 law enforcement officers in the U.S. have died after contracting the coronavirus while on the job, according to recent data from the nation’s largest police union.
“While COVID-19 is without a doubt a public health crisis, it is also a public safety crisis,” the National Fraternal Order of Police said Wednesday.
“As we had feared, the virus has claimed the lives of many, and now includes a growing number of law enforcement officers.”
Union data shows at least 510 officers are among the country’s more than 612,000 confirmed virus deaths,” the group said.
The FOP said it “knew at the beginning of the pandemic that law enforcement officers on the front lines combating this pandemic — more than 90% of whom will be responding from local and state agencies — would be increasingly vulnerable to contracting the virus.”
Texas accounts for nearly one-fourth of the officer deaths (120), California has the second-highest number (50) and New York ranks third (44). Only 12 states and the American Samoa have zero.
The data is based on media and news reports and the union notes that “not all have been verified” and the data will be updated to “ensure every officer is accounted for.”
The number was made public amid an uptick in cases in some parts of the country as city, state and federal officials are grappling with vaccine, mask and testing mandates for government employees.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that all unvaccinated city employees will have to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing beginning in September.
“This is about our recovery. This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City,” the Democratic mayor said. “This is about keeping people safe.”
The following day, New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea said five officers diagnosed with the virus are being hospitalized, “some quite serious condition, and all unvaccinated.”
Upwards of 11,000 members of NYPD have tested positive for the virus so far, and less than half (43%) of the department is vaccinated, officials said last week.
The data does not account for those inoculated outside of NYPD’s internal efforts.
“While we have stopped short of compelling uniformed officers to be vaccinated by rule — which would likely face lengthy legal challenges — we have focused our efforts on strong education and encouragement,” the department said.