Rats Are Swarming Trash On New York’s Empty Streets


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With people under the coronavirus lockdown in New York City, rats have been emboldened like never before.

Inside Edition’s ‘Rat Patrol’ hit the streets and found dozens of them swarming around trash cans, scurrying down sidewalks and even climbing up into cars. Using flashlights, our cameras spotted them emerging from sewers to raid the deserted Manhattan streets without fear, even in swanky areas like Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The most intense swarm of rats we saw was outside a Midtown Chipotle not far from Radio City.

What diseases can rats spread, and what is the potential risk to human health in New York City?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown, New York City has witnessed a peculiar phenomenon – rats swarming the trash on its empty streets.

With most humans confined to their homes, the city’s streets have been free of their usual noise and activity, leaving behind a landscape that the rat population seems to be taking full advantage of.

As restaurants and other businesses have closed, the dumpsters located outside have become a haven for the rodents. With less food waste disposal, rats have had to look elsewhere for nourishment, and the emptier streets have provided them with prime opportunities to forage and scavenge.

Despite the city’s aggressive efforts to control the rat population, the pandemic has set back those efforts substantially. The reduced work hours and staff cuts for pest control teams, along with the unpredictability of citywide shutdowns, have created a scenario that has allowed rats to spread unhindered.

New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has stated that as the weather gets warmer, the rodents will become more aggressive, leading to an increased risk of them spreading diseases like leptospirosis, salmonella, and the plague.

Apart from the health concerns, the sight of rats swarming trash on empty streets has prompted many New Yorkers to call for more action to be taken to deal with the ongoing problem. The city authorities have ensured that they are working on the issue, and a $32 million plan was announced to reduce the city’s rat population by 70%. However, the pandemic has made the solution to the problem even more challenging than it ever was.

In conclusion, the rise of COVID-19 has opened up loopholes that have enabled rats to thrive on New York’s empty streets, but the situation is not irreversible. With increased pest control and more community awareness efforts, the city can once again ensure that its streets are safe and sound for all who pass through them.

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