Coronavirus News: What it's like for NYPD, first responders protecting homeless from COVID-19

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- "Stay at home" - that is the mantra for most of us these days, but what does that mean for the homeless, and the first responders who are on the streets looking to help the homeless?

There are record numbers of homeless in shelters and on the streets of New York at a time when being on the streets can expose you to a deadly virus.

The NYPD's Homeless Outreach and Shelter Security Division is trying to protect the homeless from COVID-19.

Eyewitness News talked to a two-member team, NYPD nurse Courtney Cruise - two months on the job before that - years as a nurse at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, and his partner, NYPD officer Joe Musquez, six years on the force - and before that, 14 years as a social worker.

Most police departments don't have officers paired with nurses, but the NYPD does.

"Several teams go out on daily basis to good work," says Officer Musquez.

Officer Musquez says he is not scared.

"I tell myself internally, 'don't touch face, wash hands' - I'm okay," he said.

Musquez's partner, Courtney Cruise says he is worried about what is happening.

"In my role I have to be concerned...I have to look out for the nurses that I work for, the officers I work with, and the individuals I try to help," he said.

Then there is something that most of us do not think about - the effects of wearing a mask and approaching a skeptical stranger who might be sick and needs help.

"It does alter the communication through a mask. An adjustment, because you can't communicate. It's a challenge that has to be overcome, another adjustment we work with every day," said Officer Cruise.

The city's homeless services agency is aware of over 600 positive coronavirus cases among people in city shelters or otherwise lacking stable housing. 43 of them have died as of Monday.

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