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NYPD detective has died of coronavirus, Commissioner Dermot Shea says

Officers salute as a motorcade carrying the body

Officers salute as a motorcade carrying the body of Cedric G. Dixon, the first NYPD officer to die from COVID-19, leaves North Central Bronx hospital on Saturday. Dixon was a 48-year-old NYPD detective who worked in a Harlem precinct. Credit: Edison Gaston for the New York Post

A 48-year-old detective who worked in a Harlem precinct is the first NYPD officer to die from coronavirus, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Saturday.

The detective is Cedric G. Dixon, who was on the force for 23 years and worked out of the 32nd Precinct, Shea said. Dixon died early Saturday, said police spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie.

Dixon had been admitted to North Central Bronx hospital, according to a police source who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

Dixon had been admitted with flu-like symptoms and later tested positive for coronavirus, according to a statement Saturday night by his labor union, the Detectives' Endowment Association. 

Dixon was a Bronx resident, McRorie said.

Shea said Dixon was the third member of the department to die from the effects of the virus. Earlier in the week two civilian employees — an administrative aide and a cleaner — died of COVID-19.

Shea would not say whether Dixon or the other two employees had any preexisting medical conditions, but hinted that might have been the case.

"I won't get into the specifics of all three … what we know … is this disease is particularly aggressive against people with vulnerabilities," Shea said.

As of Friday, 442 uniformed members of the department — 1.2% of the force — had tested positive for the coronavirus. The last sick call tally showed just over 11.2%, or just over 4,100, of cops calling in sick.

"We are hurting, we are crying and we continue to fight. We simply have no other choice," Shea said of the NYPD's continuing mission in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. He urged the public to follow social distancing rules — which under a state order calls for people who don’t live together to keep at least 6 feet apart to prevent the virus’ spread.

At a news conference Saturday, during which Dixon's death was announced, Shea was flanked by Chief of Department Terence Monahan; the president of Dixon's labor union, Paul DiGiacomo; and Rodney Harrison, the chief of detectives. The men stood several feet apart, in line with social distancing rules intended to limit the spread of the virus.

"Please, help us help you and stay inside — stay inside unless absolutely necessary," Shea said. As of 10 a.m. Saturday, the virus had infected at least 29,158 New York City residents and killed 517, according to the city government.

James McDermott, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, the rank-and-file labor union, said in a written statement: "We mourn the loss of one of our brothers in uniform to the coronavirus."

And his counterpart in Suffolk, Noel DiGerolamo, said in a written statement: "There is a bond among police officers we hold sacred, whether they are in New York City, Suffolk County or anywhere in the world, we stand together."