NYC mayor wants new laws to stem Legionnaires' as death toll hits 12

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Legionnaires' Death Toll Swells To 12 In New York City


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, reacting to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, proposed legislation on Monday to register and maintain the city's estimated 2,500 cooling towers, some of which are being blamed for the illness.

On Monday the death toll was raised to 12 from 10 on Saturday and the number of cases to 113 from 108. Officials said the higher figures stem from new reporting, not new deaths or cases.

"All levels of government have been in close coordination and now we are turning our attention to ensuring we can handle any such outbreak in the future and, in fact, prevent any such outbreak," de Blasio said at a press conference on Monday.

The proposal comes as both city and state health officials work to find and disinfect every cooling tower in the city. In the South Bronx area, inspectors have found 39 such towers, 12 of which have tested positive for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' when it is inhaled through mist.

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NYC mayor wants new laws to stem Legionnaires' as death toll hits 12
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13: The Opera House Hotel at 436 East 149th Street, which houses a water cooling tower that was found to have traces of legionella pneumophila bacteria, which may have helped cause the recent outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Bronx, is seen on August 13, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. In a press conference today New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while new cases of Legionnaires' may appear, the outbreak has been contained and that the water cooling towers the New York City Department of Health believe are responsible for the outbreak have been decontaminated. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Marvin Montgomery, a Legionnaires disease patient at Harlem Hospital on Thursday, August 6, 2015 in New Yrok, N.Y. Montgomery worked near Lincoln Hospital, one of five sites that tested positive for the bacteria, and frequently used the hospital bathroom. City officials released new numbers Thursday showing the death toll since July 12 was now in the double digits while overall cases had climbed to 100. All the people affected are from the South Bronx. (Photo By: James Keivom/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: The Opera House Hotel is viewed in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak Legionnaires disease on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: A man looks in the window of a building for a person who lost a relative to Legionnaires disease in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: People walk in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak Legionnaires disease on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Lydia Ramirez, the wife of Carmelo Quiles who recently died of Legionnaires disease, pauses in her apartment in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: People walk past the Opera House Hotel in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak Legionnaires disease on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: People walk in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak Legionnaires disease on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: The Opera House Hotel is viewed in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak Legionnaires disease on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Carmen Ramirez, whose father Carmelo Quiles recently died of Legionnaires disease, pauses in her mothers apartment with a picture of her father in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Carmen Ramirez, whose father Carmelo Quiles recently died of Legionnaires disease, pauses in her mothers apartment in an area of the Bronx which is the center of the outbreak on August 6, 2015 in New York City. It is believed that cooling towers in the area contributed to the illness which is believed to be contracted by inhaling mists from contaminated bacteria in the water source. The Bronx, and specifically the area around the Opera Hotel on East 149th Street, is in the middle of the largest outbreak of Legionnaires disease in New York City's history. New York authorities announced that as of Wednesday night the illness has now sickened nearly 100 people since July 10, with at least eight people having died. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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De Blasio said 22 of the identified cooling towers have tested negative for the bacteria, and five are still awaiting results. He said all will be disinfected by Monday night.

City health officials said the last time a person became sick with Legionnaires' was a week ago on Aug. 3, and that the outbreak has peaked.

On Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo, in partnership with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sent state health workers to help inspect cooling towers in the South Bronx, a move that prompted political questions because of its overlap with the mayor's response to the outbreak.

But de Blasio said on Monday that health experts at all levels are working together.

"The politicians are not the issue here. The issue is the people who know the facts, are they working together constantly? The answer is yes," he said.

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