At least 83 MTA workers have died of coronavirus with more than 3,000 confirmed cases, the transport authority’s chairman said Wednesday.
Patrick J. Foye pointed to New York being the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States as he attempted to defend his organizations response to the pandemic.
He once again blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telling reporters he ‘regrets’ that the federal agency did not tell people to wear masks sooner.
Foye said: ‘I regret that the CDC and the World Health Organization gave the advice that they did. I do regret that they gave that advice to the entire country. I think that everybody in the country regrets the failings of the CDC.’
The MTA followed initial CDC guidance which said its 71,000 workers did not have to wear face coverings. At the beginning of March workers were banned from wearing their own masks, Politico reports.
As the death toll among MTA workers continued to rise masks were eventually given to staff on March 27. The CDC said people should wear a mask on April 8.
At least 83 MTA workers have died of coronavirus with more than 3,000 confirmed cases, the transport authority’s chairman said Wednesday. A worker is pictured in a mask Wednesday
MTA chairman Patrick J. Foye pointed to New York being the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States as he attempted to defend his organizations response to the pandemic
Foye said earlier this month: ‘The only ‘sluggish’ response has been on the part of the [WHO and CDC], whose guidelines against widespread use of masks the MTA (a transportation organization, not a medical provider) initially followed but has since disregarded.’
Of the confirmed cases 2,636 work on the subway or buses as do all but three of those who have died.
Foye, who is among those who has tested positive for the virus, said Wednesday: ‘New York is the epicenter of the pandemic. The transit workers who have passed away are, the data suggests, primarily male.
‘Many of them have underlying medical conditions, which the public health officials tell us is an issue with respect to the ability to survive this. No one knows, in the public transit world, how the virus was spread, under what conditions in was spread.’
New York state and city officials ordered anyone who doesn’t have an ‘essential job’ to stay home. As a result subway ridership fell 93 per cent.
Transit workers are among those who are deemed essential employees and are still required to go to work despite the ongoing pandemic.
The death toll in New York City was confirmed to be 9,944 Wednesday, with a further 5,052 probable deaths.
Transport Workers Union Local 100 president Tony Utano told The New York Daily News: ‘The risks transit workers face every day, and the sacrifices that have been made, demand they receive hazard pay from the MTA.’
It was announced last week that families of Metropolitan Transportation Authority staff who have died from the coronavirus will receive $500,000.
The funds were part of the line-of-duty death benefits that union leaders pressed MTA heads to provide.
The benefits – part of the MTA labor contract – had been held up as the MTA wanted the federal government to pay. A negotiation was reached after several days.
The MTA is planning to cover the health insurance of spouses and their dependents for three years in addition to the lump $500,000 payment.
Families will not be required to prove that the virus was contracted while the transit worker was on the job.
Elvin Gonzalez, an MTA bus driver has his temperature taken before starting his shift at the West Farms Bus Depot on April 10
An MTA transit worker cleans a nearly empty Times Square – 42nd street subway station following the outbreak of coronavirus disease
To keep trains from getting too crowded, New York’s MTA says it has sought to keep up normal service on the most-used routes.
There are also police directing people on subway platforms to less crowded sections of trains. Riders are urged to cover their faces and to report situations where social distancing is not being observed.
But one worker told The New York Post: ‘It’s like they’re making it up as they go along. They’re giving the operators N95 masks labeled single-use, and they’re giving them instructions on how to clean them, saying they’re supposed to keep it for five days.’
Sarah Feinberg, the interim president of New York City Transit: ‘I’m proud that we’ve been the most aggressive transit agency in the country in acting quickly and decisively to protect our workforce.’