Death Toll from NYC Legionnaires Outbreak Rises to 12
Death Toll from NYC Legionnaires Outbreak Rises to 12 [Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wikimedia Commons]
Mayor de Blasio says the number of people who have died from Legionnaires' disease in New York City has risen to 12. And he says the cases now total 113. That number went up slightly because people were diagnosed after the fact.
"I emphasize, again, everyone has been working very hard on this situation and we feel the loss of life; and our hearts go out to all the family members of those who have lost a loved one and those still suffering from the disease," De Blasio said.
De Blasio says there have been no new cases of Legionnaires' since August 3rd, and authorities say there's no sign of anyone else getting sick.
"So as we go through every passing day with no new sicknesses, it's a very promising sign," De Blasio said.
The outbreak is the largest in city history. It's been linked to mist contaminated with the Legionella bacteria that has evaporated from cooling towers in the South Bronx. The mayor says after inspecting more than 700 buildings, the city has now determined 39 could potentially be contaminated. Of those 39, 12 have tested positive for Legionella, 22 have tested negative, and five are still awaiting results.
Mayor de Blasio says the city's still days away from receiving lab results that could confirm officials' belief that one or more of the five towers originally identified as potential sites for the outbreak were in fact the cause. But he says the city doesn't want to waste any more time before taking action.
The City Council will introduce legislation tomorrow that could help prevent future cases of Legionnaires'. The bill would create new registration, maintenance and inspection requirements for cooling towers across the city.
If passed, all new cooling towers will be required to register with the city and undergo quarterly inspections for dangerous bacteria.
"Failure to comply with this law will be considered a major violation and building owners will be penalized," De Blasio said.
The City Council will deliberate on the bill at a hearing tomorrow and anticipates the legislation will go up for a vote Thursday.
The city has launched on online voluntary registration site for cooling towers in the meantime. Building owners can visit nyc.gov/buildings to register cooling towers as well as similar devices called evaporative condensors.
City health officials will continue to provide updates on the number of Legionnaires' cases in the coming weeks.