Coronavirus News: Calls for dismissal of NYC health commissioner over NYPD comments

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, May 14, 2020
EMBED <>More Videos

NJ Burkett has the latest details on the coronavirus pandemic in New York City including Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement that the city is expanding its COVID-19 testing efforts.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City's health commissioner is in hot water over remarks she reportedly made to a top cop.

Dr. Oxiris Barbot is accused of telling NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan she didn't give "two rats a***s" about police officers.

The exchange took place in March when Monahan asked Dr. Barbot for half a million masks for police officers.

A city official says the Office of Emergency Management, which oversees the procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment to city agencies, instructed the NYPD to report to a FEMA warehouse in New Jersey, fully stocked with PPE, and pick up 500,000 masks.

When NYPD arrived, they were told by workers at the warehouse they were only slated to receive 50,000 masks. Subsequent phone calls up the chains of command in both the NYPD and health department resulted in Monahan on the phone with Barbot.

The heath department is characterizing the whole incident as a "heated exchange," saying Dr. Barbot apologized and Monahan accepted.

Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in during his Thursday news conference, amid calls for Dr. Barbot to either resign or be fired.

"I need to understand what happened here, it does need to be addressed," de Blasio said. "If it is accurate, the commissioner needs to apologize to the men and women of the NYPD."

The mayor said he's focused on getting his team to work together to help keep the people of New York City safe.

The NYC Department of Health released the following statement:

"Dr. Barbot and Chief Monahan have a good working relationship. 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. The Commissioner apologized for her contribution to the exchange, the apology was accepted and agreement was arrived between the two to ensure that respirators were delivered to members of the force. This has always been about saving the lives of our healthcare workers, police officers and every New Yorker who is fighting through this pandemic."

Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, is calling for Barbot's dismissal:

"I am not surprised by such vile words coming from an appointee of Mayor de Blasio, whose disdain for law enforcement is legendary," Mullins said. "But Dr. Barbot's comments make it clear she has no personal or professional regard for the police. The primary concern of a medical professional in such an important position should be the safety of all people, and her attitude places police officers in great jeopardy and makes her unfit for the job."


COVID-19 Help, Information and Resources


New York state

New Jersey


Long Island

Grieving the lost: Tri-State residents who have died


Share your coronavirus story with Eyewitness News

Stimulus check scams and other coronavirus hoaxes

Coronavirus prevention: how clean are your hands?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

Total count of NYC COVID-19 cases based on patient address