MTA Recommends Riders Wear Masks Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Michael Wallace
April 02, 2020 - 5:29 pm

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The MTA is out with some new guidance for riders, asking them to wear masks, scarves or some other kind of facial protection to reduce the risk of infection when using the mass transit system.

Since March 1, the MTA provided its front line workers with 3.2 million gloves and 240,000 masks, but Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye is now going a step further asking riders to wear some facial protection if they have it.

"We're not in a position to provide masks to our customers, but we think that's just a prudent step at this point," Foye said, pinning the recommendation on new guidelines from the CDC. "I think the CDC's advice on masks has been slow to change. Last week, together with the TWU we began giving masks to employees at higher numbers, the CDC and the WHO seem to be changing their advice and that's why we're making this recommendation to customers."

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday also made a similar recommendation to all New Yorkers.

Meanwhile, ridership on subways and buses is down by about 90%, which is good for public health but terrible for revenue.

The MTA has already received about $4 billion from the federal government buy Foye said the MTA and other transit agencies will seek additional funding from the Trump administration.

At least eight MTA workers have died of coronavirus with nearly 750 confirmed cases and with other employees calling out sick, Foye said it has been a challenge to run the system on its reduced "essential service" plan.

While many New Yorkers are heeding the calls to stay home, some subways and buses have become crowded as the service takes a hit and has made abiding by social distancing protocols difficult on mass transit.

"For those who have to go to work wear a mask if you've got one, if the train's crowded wait for the next one, go down the platform, that's the advice that we're giving," Foye said.

There are no plans to reduce service any further.

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