Frontline MTA Workers To Get Priority COVID-19 Testing Under New Partnership

WCBS 880 Newsroom
April 15, 2020 - 3:36 pm

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The MTA and Northwell Health have announced a new partnership to increase coronavirus testing for frontline transit workers.

"Under this new agreement with Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, symptomatic transportation workers will receive priority access to evaluation, care and testing at 52 Northwell locations across the MTA Service region with no out-of-pocket costs to our employees," MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foy said Wednesday.

Foye said Northwell can test about 50 transit workers a day.

"As the largest employer of healthcare workers in the state, we understand how vital it is to have a functioning mass transit system during this time of unprecedented challenges," said Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling. "Untold numbers of our own employees depend on mass transit to get to work each day. Our relationship with the MTA is a mutually essential one and we look forward to partnering together in the days and weeks to come to make sure that MTA workers can get tested at our more than 50 urgent care locations around the region."

This week, Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care centers also started testing first responders from city agencies. 

Northwell Health-GoHealth will be reaching out to MTA workers who have identified themselves as symptomatic starting Friday. 

This is the latest step the MTA has taken to protect its workforce, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. More than 2,000 MTA employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and 59 have died.

Since March 1, the MTA has distributed 2.7 million pairs of gloves and nearly 750,000 masks to its transit workers.

It also disinfects its fleet of trains and buses nightly, has implemented rear-door boarding and eliminated cash transactions, and recently rolled out a "temperature brigade" to check employees as they arrive to work.

The MTA will also install plexiglass barriers at 28 bus depots to further protect employees.

The agency continues to run on a reduced "essential service" plan, providing 75 percent of normal service while ridership on the subways is down by about 94 percent. Foye said the MTA is not planning on reducing service any further because its passengers are primarily first responders, grocery store workers and other essential employees critical to New York's fight against the pandemic and recovery

"Our workforce is acting heroically, they're heroes moving heroes," Foye said.

While there were some overcrowding issues last week in the Bronx, Foye said there have been no reported incidents this week after the agency increased train and bus service in the area.

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