Mayor Reassures Bronx Residents Legionnaires' Outbreak is Ending, Treatable
City officials visited the South Bronx Tuesday to share information with residents on Legionnaires' Disease which has resulted in 12 deaths since the outbreak began.
Speaking to elderly residents at the Leon Senior Center, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the outbreak is ending and treatable with antibiotics.
The mayor says there are now 115 reported cases of Legionnaires' disease.
No new cases have been reported since August 3.
The mayor also says the number of sites that tested positive is now 11 within the impact zone, not 12 as reported on Monday.
City health officials say they've pinpointed the cooling tower on the Opera House Hotel as the source of many of the cases of Legionnaires.
NY1 mentioned last week that cleaning was done in the hotel's cooling towers.
The hotel says it has done its due diligence and that the city Health Department is being uncooperative.
In a statement, hotel officials said, in part, "...officials have refused to provide us with any information. When we have heard from city officials, they have been low level people who tell us they don’t have access to information. It has been a frustrating experience, to say the least."
The mayor was visibly irritated when asked about the owner's comments.
"Honestly, with all due respect to the folks at the hotel, I don't know why it is of such great concern for the owner of a hotel when we're talking about a disease outbreak that's affected so many people. That's our concern," de Blasio said. "I don't know who he has spoken to."
The hotel owner also accused the de Blasio administration of a rush to judgment by allegedly leaking information about the Opera House as a source of the outbreak to the New York Times.
The mayor refused to acknowledge any suggestion of leaking from his administration.
"Forgive me, guys, but you really got to pay attention to what's important and stop following these smaller stories," de Blasio said.
Cases of Legionnaires' disease are also popping up outside the south Bronx outbreak zone.
Officials say an inmate at Rikers Island has tested positive.
Now, the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association is calling on the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to inspect all of the city's correctional facilities.
The union says the city shouldn't put the health and well-being of thousands of correction officers and inmates at risk.
A City Hall spokesperson says the case at Rikers is probably not linked to the outbreak in the south Bronx.
Meanwhile, the mayor and other officials are proposing legislation to try to prevent future outbreaks.
They want to create a citywide registry of cooling towers and require that they be tested every three months.
Governor Andrew Cuomo says he wants statewide regulations for cooling towers, but Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city can take the lead.
"We're going to pass the laws and rules we need to protect our people, and we're going to do it right now," de Blasio told reporters Monday. "I'm not sure when Albany is going to treat the matter. I think it's right that you can often want to have statewide rules and regulations at the same time as you have city rules and regulations."
"I am comfortable with the state's action. I think we have been aggressive. I think the aggressiveness was called for," Cuomo said.
The governor says he assigned 150 state workers to test cooling systems for legionnella bacteria, which causes the disease. He says those workers found three more buildings that tested positive for the bacteria.