Caught on Camera: Rats in New York City Are Not Social Distancing

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With people under the coronavirus lockdown in New York City, rats have been emboldened in a way like never before. Inside Edition took out a camera crew and found dozens of them swarming around trash cans, scurrying down sidewalks and even climbing up into cars. 

The "Rat Patrol" spotted them emerging from the sewers to openly raid the deserted streets of Manhattan, and while the Big Apple is known for its rodent issues, experts say they’re more active and aggressive now, some even turning to cannibalism due to dwindling food supplies with so many restaurants closed.

In swanky neighborhoods on Manhattan's Upper West Side, we spotted rats pausing for their close ups. And down in the narrow streets of the financial district, other monster pets scoured for midnight meals.

But nowhere was the problem as bad as in and around a trash can outside a Midtown Chipotle on the Avenue of the Americas. After complaints poured in, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about the rat problem at this location at a press conference last week. 

"We are certainly not going to ever let it get to a worse situation, we're going to fight it back," de Blasio said. But a week later, our cameras found that they're still here — and they've brought reinforcements. 

Matt Frye is a rodent expert with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University. 

“The pandemic has really been a great opportunity for people to see how human behavior effects rodents,” adding that “what we’re seeing across the country and in New York City right now is that there is a lack of food availability for rats… so they may be out in larger numbers than we expect and they certainly may be in areas where we may not have seen rats before.”

While there's no evidence rats can become infected with COVID-19, experts worry they can spread the virus around by carrying it on their feet and fur.


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