NYU Releases COVID-19 Survey; Union, Experts Urge the MTA to do More Testing and Screening of Members

OCTOBER 20 -- The New York University scientists asked by the union to research COVID-19’s impact on transit workers – and to make recommendations – have released the results of their initial survey.
Nearly 650 Local 100 members anonymously completed a survey questionnaire, and nearly 24% stated they tested positive for the virus. Many did not live in areas with high infection rates, suggesting they contracted the virus at work, according to the researchers. The survey also quantified a high percentage of workers fearful of becoming sick or assaulted.
“Through gaining a deeper understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted transit workers’ health and quality of life, we can determine how to best support them and protect them moving forward,” said Robyn Gershon, clinical professor of epidemiology at NYU School of Global Public Health, who leads the research project.
In the NYU press release, the researchers said they “recommend that the MTA not only continue offering testing—both virus and antibody—to workers, but expand it to better identify and isolate workers who may have the virus but do not show symptoms. This has also been recommended by TWU’s leaders.”
In addition to expanded testing and screening, the researchers recommend that the MTA continue making personal protective equipment readily available and “support the wellbeing” of transit workers with mental health services.
“We put the city on our shoulders when the pandemic hit, and we are still carrying it forward,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “It has been a heavy burden. There are now more protective measures against the virus in place than when the crisis erupted, but we can’t let up. We need stay vigilant, and push forward with new and better ways to defend our blue-collar heroes still moving millions of riders a day.” Utano also said transit workers should get priority when there is an approved vaccine.