NYC health commissioner apologizes to NYPD after rejecting coronavirus mask plea

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New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot apologized to New York Police Department officers amid pressure to do so after reports that she made derogatory comments to an NYPD official while receiving requests for masks to protect the police force from COVID-19.

Barbot, in a statement on Monday, addressed the reports that she blew off a request from the NYPD for hundreds of thousands of surgical masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, and reportedly told a high-ranking police official that: “I don’t give two rats’ a–es about your cops.”

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“The members of the NYPD fight valiantly every day to keep New Yorkers safe,” Barbot said in a statement Monday.

“In mid-March, I was asked to provide the NYPD with a half million N-95 masks, while masks and other PPE were in terribly short supply,” she explained. “I wished we had sufficient numbers to meet their full request and were ultimately able to partially fulfill what was sought. This regrettably led to an argument in which words were exchanged between a police official and myself.”

She added: “I apologized to that police official then and today, I apologize to the NYPD for leaving any impression whatsoever that I don’t have utmost respect for our police department, which plays a critical role on the frontlines each and every day to keep our city safe.”

In this Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, with Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, listens to a reporter's question in New York. DeBlasio says he's investigating a report that the city's health commissioner spoke dismissively of the health concerns of police officers during a heated phone call with a top police commander in the early days of the coronavirus crisis. The Mayor said he wants to speak with Barbot and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan to "understand exactly what happened" during the exchange in late March. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

In this Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, with Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, listens to a reporter’s question in New York. DeBlasio says he’s investigating a report that the city’s health commissioner spoke dismissively of the health concerns of police officers during a heated phone call with a top police commander in the early days of the coronavirus crisis. The Mayor said he wants to speak with Barbot and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan to “understand exactly what happened” during the exchange in late March. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Barbot’s apology came after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last week said she “should apologize” to the NYPD, and after current and former NYPD officers called for her resignation.

The New York Post first reported that Barbot made the remark during a brief phone conversation in March with NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, after he requested 500,000 masks.

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Barbot reportedly told Monahan that she could only provide 50,000 masks.

“I don’t give two rats’ a—es about your cops,” Barbot reportedly said. “I need them for others.”

The Sergeants Benevolent Association, which is comprised of more than 13,000 active and retired sergeants of the NYPD, said that if Barbot’s reported comments were true, that she should be “immediately fired.”

As of mid-April, more than 4,000 NYPD officers had tested positive for COVID-19.

Fox News’ Maria Paronich contributed to this report. 

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