City’s DSNY mourns after agency’s first reported COVID-19 death

The city’s Department of Sanitation has lost its first employee due to the coronavirus.

News 12 Staff

Apr 7, 2020, 9:15 PM

Updated 1,511 days ago

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The city’s Department of Sanitation has lost its first employee due to the coronavirus.
Raymond Copeland, a Queens worker, died due to complications of COVID-19. The agency announced the loss via Twitter on Tuesday. 
“We are over 330 positives at this point in time... When we have a positive, we shut down the facility, we bring in an outside vendor to do the cleaning. They have been extremely responsive, so we are usually able to open up on the next shift or if not that, then two shifts later,” said DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. 
She says the number of sanitation garages that are temporarily shut down because of positive cases changes throughout the day. As of Tuesday, two were undergoing deep cleans. 
 
Garcia says the agency is taking proactive steps to stop the spread. “So very early on, we started doing cleaning every night at our facilities, we also stopped moving sanitation workers between garages to make sure they had less interaction. We moved the shifts so they're earlier or overnight so there's less interaction with the public,” said Garcia. 
The president of Local 831, the union for sanitation employees, told News 12 in a statement, "I am incredibly proud of the dedication and devotion of my members during this crisis. I also want to thank Commissioner Garcia and everyone at City Hall for their support. Together we will get through this."  
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