Brooklyn BP Adams, MTA workers demand better protection from COVID-19 while on the job

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The MTA tells News 12 at least 52 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and several of the workers are calling on their bosses to better protect them.

The workers say there are masks available, but that their supervisors will not hand them out.


Union members were joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Wednesday. The union says that as of March 20 there were close to 16,000 masks listed as in stock. They're calling on the MTA to provide protective masks to all essential personnel, which includes bus operators who are considered essential and are required to come in to work.

"Let's stop playing with our lives. We cannot look 20 years later and say we should have known better; we can get masks in the city, we have a three-day turnaround for masks. I got these masks last night. Why am I able to get these masks as a borough president, and we can't get them at the highest level of government,” says Borough President Adams.

MORE: LIVE BLOG - Coronavirus updates from the tri-state area and beyond 
TRACKER: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut coronavirus cases and deaths

This comes on the heels of the MTA announcing it will be operating on an "MTA Essential Service Plan." With ridership down on the subways 87% and on the buses 60%, according to the MTA, officials say they are losing a ton of money. Starting Wednesday, Monday through Friday the B, W and Z lines will not be operating, and some other express trains will be operating on local lines. Starting tomorrow they'll be changing up some bus services, but say they will retain 75% of normal services.

The goal, they say, is to reduce the number of operators needed.

The MTA says it is already working to clean and disinfect stations, but it has already had at least 52 employees test positive. They are ultimately calling on Congress to pass a nearly $25 billion for dedicated funding to help mass transit nationwide.

The MTA released a statement saying, "The MTA is adhering to the guidance of the CDC, State Department of Health and public health authorities and experts. There’s a nationwide shortage of masks and the state is scouring the globe for additional equipment for healthcare workers and other essential employees. We’ve implemented rear-door boarding to ensure social distance for operators, eliminated cash transactions, and continue to aggressively disinfect workplaces. We continue to work closely with the TWU and all our labor partners to protect the health and safety of our incredible workforce.”  

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