The death toll from Legionnaires’ Disease in the Bronx has climbed to 12, city officials said Monday, and NYC Health Commissioner says the data shows it appears to be under control.
There were dueling news conferences on the crisis Monday, one at City Hall and one at the midtown office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
At City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio reported two new buildings — a Department of Homeless Services intake center, and the Daughters of Jacob nursing home — tested positive for the bacteria.
Cuomo said state inspectors identified a total of three new buildings in New York City
De Blasio said later the difference in number had to do with the city focusing on the South Bronx’s impact zone, rather than the city at large.
“You can ask political questions or personality questions, I’m just not going to entertain those,” de Blasio said. “The politicians are not the issue here.”
More than two-thirds of the 113 people who have been hospitalized have recovered from the pneumonia-like disease have gone home, Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said during the afternoon briefing.
Bassett said there haven’t been any new cases of the disease in the past six days, and there are encouraging signs people are getting treated and the outbreak is tapering off.
The City Council is set to hold a hearing on Tuesday on new legislation that will require buildings with the cooling towers responsible for the outbreak. The council is expected to vote later in the week.
“There is no other model like this in the United States,” de Blasio said.
The legislation will require all new and existing cooling towers to register with the Department of Buildings, be inspected quarterly and disinfected by health department standards if necessary.
Any dangerous microbe levels must be reported to the health department. De Blasio asked owners of buildings with cooling towers to voluntarily register them online at nyc.gov/buildings .
Multiple city agencies spent the weekend canvassing, locating cooling towers in the South Bronx and testing and disinfecting the units.
De Blasio said over 700 buildings were checked, and a more thorough canvas found 39 buildings with cooling towers in the impact zone.
The city is waiting for test results from five more buildings.
Health department officials reminded New Yorkers that Legionnaire’s Disease is spread by breathing in contaminated water vapors. It is not contagious, and tap water is safe to drink and use. More information is on the health department’s website.
LikeMetro New Yorkon Facebook and join the conversation.