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New York transit worker Coronavirus fatalities skyrocket

New York Workers' Compensation

At least 41 MTA workers have died and more than 1,500 have tested positive

Recent Coronavirus deaths involving essential workers have taken a heavy toll on New York transit workers. In particular, the number of Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) worker fatalities, and workers suffering from serious health problems due to the Coronavirus pandemic in New York, have soared in recent weeks.

As of April 8, the MTA has reported at least 41 MTA worker Coronavirus fatalities and more than 1,500 workers with confirmed cases of the Coronavirus, according to several recent news sources, including NBC News. In addition, more than 5,600 workers have self-quarantined because they have experienced Coronavirus-like symptoms, according to The New York Times. The MTA includes:

  • MTA New York City subway workers
  • MTA bus drivers
  • MTA Staten Island Railway workers
  • MTA commuter rail workers
  • MTA Metro North Railroad workers
  • MTA Long Island Railroad (LIRR) workers

MTA fails to properly respond to Coronavirus pandemic

The large number of Coronavirus deaths and cases among MTA workers has raised concerns that the authority did not take enough precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of its workers, especially during the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic in New York. In particular, several MTA workers interviewed by The New York Times claim the MTA:

  • Failed to distribute disinfectant to clean shared work spaces
  • Failed to properly keep track of sick workers
  • Failed to inform MTA workers about possible exposure to the virus from co-workers
  • Failed to enact social distancing measures early on during pandemic
  • Initially reprimanded MTA workers who wore protective masks
  • Initially reprimanded MTA workers who cordoned off seats to protect workers

In addition, a telephone hotline for MTA workers to report positive test results was initially overwhelmed, receiving 7,000 - 8,000 calls per day from employees who had tested positive for the Coronavirus or had questions about the virus, The New York Times reported.

“It takes you three or four days just to communicate something very simple,” an MTA train operator said in an interview with The New York Times.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 workers (which includes MTA employees) started requesting protective gear (including gloves and masks) as early as March 5, but their requests were denied at the time, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not recommended that healthy people wear face masks, The New York Times reported.

When some frontline MTA workers wore their own masks, they were ordered to remove their masks, since these items violated the MTA’s uniform policy, according to formal complaints reviewed by The New York Times.

“We are supposed to have systems in place for this,” Ronald Spring, a bus operator, said in an interview with The New York Times. “We are supposed to have equipment for us to go out and serve the public even in a crisis. But we didn’t see any of that happening like it should have.”

Understanding your rights as a New York MTA worker with the Coronavirus

If you or loved one has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, contact Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP Attorneys At Law. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation and other benefits. Schedule a free video or phone consultation with one of our experienced New York workers’ compensation lawyers. Our New York City law firm remains fully operational. We have extensive experience working with New York transportation workers, including unionized New York transportation workers.

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