NEW YORK – The MTA has begun a voluntary COVID-19 screening program for frontline employees, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this morning. Under this new initiative, free COVID -19 testing will be offered at rotating field locations, medical assessment offices, and occupational health services centers to NYC Transit, LIRR, Metro-North, and Bridge and Tunnels employees.
The initiative is said to be the first transit worker screening initiative in the country. According to Cuomo, up to 2,000 MTA employees will be screened per week under the first phase of the program. As part of the program, the MTA is partnering with BioReference Laboratories and Quest Diagnostics to perform the testing. The COVID-19 Screening Program will begin at select field locations, MACs, and OHS facilities and will be expanded to additional sites in the coming weeks.
For the testing, it will take about five minutes for the nasal swab to be administered. The program is voluntary, but participation is strongly recommended, Cuomo said, promising the turnaround time for results within 48 hours.
“Our brave frontline transit workers risked their lives to provide New Yorkers an essential service every single day during this pandemic, and we must support them just as they have supported us,” Cuomo said. “This new voluntary screening program leverages New York’s nation-leading COVID testing program to help keep our frontline workers safe during this unprecedented pandemic.”
The first part of the phase targets frontline employees through the following approaches:
- Field Sites: On-site testing will be provided on a rotating schedule at field locations, including bus depots and subway and railroad train yards, determined by MTA Occupational Health Services based on hot spot and cluster zone designations made by New York State.
- Medical Assessment Centers (MACs) and Occupational Health Services (OHS) Facilities: Voluntary testing will also be offered to all employees scheduled to visit a MAC or OHS facility.
- Existing Partnership with Northwell Health: Additionally, free diagnostic testing remains available to MTA workers at Northwell Health-GoHealth urgent care centers throughout the New York metropolitan region.
“The MTA continues to lead the nation in worker safety and the new COVID-19 screening program is just the latest example of this steadfast commitment to employee safety during this unprecedented public health emergency,” Patrick J. Foye, MTA Chairman said. “Our workforce has been the backbone of New York since the virus arrived. It is a first-order priority to promote a safe work environment at all our facilities.”
From now through November, the program will begin at 36 locations, with six of them in Brooklyn:
- East NY Bus Depot at 25 Jamaica Avenue
- Flatbush Bus Depot at 4901 Fillmore Ave
- Jackie Gleason Bus Depot at 871 5th Ave
- Ulmer Park Bus Depot at 2449 Harway Ave
- Medical Assessment Center 1 at 180 Livingston Street
- Medical Assessment Center 5 at the MTA Coney Island Yard
“This is exactly the type of screening program we have been asking for and it’s a huge step forward in terms of protecting TWU Local 100 members from a possible second wave,” TWU Local 100 President Tony Utano said. “We will closely monitor its implementation but we’re grateful our requests for testing and screening on such a scale have been heard.”