NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The MTA announced Thursday that 23 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye said 19 are with New York City Transit and 4 are with the Long Island Rail Road.
"These individuals are in quarantine or receiving appropriate care," Foye said in a statement. "As we have said, this is not unexpected as testing continues to ramp up, which will help contain the spread of the virus.We expect this number will only continue to increase."
Foye said the MTA is working closely with the state Department of Health to identify any colleagues who have come in contact with the sickened employees, send them home to self-quarantine, provide access to necessary testing and immediately and aggressively disinfect the workplace.
MTA Senior Advisor Ken Lovett said in a statement that after the agency was notified of three employees at the Fresh Pond Bus Depot possibly testing positive for the COVID-19 virus "34 employees at the depot who came in close contact with the individuals have been instructed to self-quarantine."
Lovett said, "The building itself has been fully and aggressively disinfected, twice, as per protocol. We continue to monitor the situation closely and we have contingency staffing plans in place."
The news comes on the same day that the LIRR stopped accepting cash payments at ticket windows and on board trains in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The railroad has also closed its Lost & Found Office in Penn Station until further notice. Any recovery of lost items will be returned by appointment only.
The MTA continues to operate the subways, railroads and buses, as well as Access-A-Ride services around the clock. It has also intensified cleaning protocols across the system, disinfecting stations twice a day, as well as subways, buses and rail cars every 72 hours. Access-A-Ride vehicles are sanitized daily.
Ridership has fallen 60 percent on the subways, 49 percent on buses, 90 percent on Metro-North and 67 percent on the Long Island Rail Road as commuters work from home or avoid mass transit.
This week, Foye said the MTA faces a “financial calamity” amid the coronavirus outbreak and sent the letter to members of the New York State Congressional Delegation requesting $4 billion in federal aid.
“The stark reality is that as more people stay home following the advice of medical experts, the MTA is now facing financial calamity,” Foye wrote in the letter.“As a result, MTA revenue has plummeted as we provide these essential service. We project the full impact will be over $4 billion by the end of 2020 – even without accounting for the expected collapse of the more than $6 billion in state and local taxes dedicated to the MTA.”
Officials have insisted mass transit will continue to operate amid the outbreak to provide service to essential workers such as first responders and healthcare workers.