Coronavirus News: MTA deploys 'temperature brigade' at 22 locations to fight COVID-19

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA will test frontline transit workers each day to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

A so-called "temperature brigade" will be deployed systemwide at 22 locations across New York City, including Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal.

The MTA Temperature Brigade consists of members from across the MTA, including NYC Transit safety and security personnel, LIRR fire marshals, and Metro-North fire brigade, as well as 60 contract workers, all medically trained, deployed 24/7 to locations covering all MTA agencies.

"One of the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to ensure that people who are sick are staying home, out of the transit system and away from work," MTA Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren said.

The transit agency plans to take the temperature of thousands of employees each day.

"Our 'temperature brigade' helps reduce the risk for everyone, and they are among the thousands of behind-the-scenes heroes at the MTA working hard to fight this formidable pandemic," Warren said. "Our frontline employees are incredible, and we thank them for their courage and commitment to public service."

Temperature Brigade members check all employees entering a work location using thermal scan thermometers on the foreheads. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher is sent home and instructed to seek medical guidance and report back to the MTA.

The Brigade started at seven sites last month and has ramped up with more than 2,000 employees a day now being tested. The fever rate being found by the Brigade is extremely low--approximately one out of every 1,000 employees checked.

The current locations where the Temperature Brigade is deployed are:
NYCT Rail Control Center
NYCT Bus Command Center
NYCT Power Control Center
NYCT 130 Livingston
NYCT PS248 Training Center
NYCT West Farms Depot
NYCT Queens Village Depot
NYCT Grand Ave Depot
NYCT Gun Hill Depot
NYCT Jackie Gleason Depot
NYCT College Point Depot
NYCT JFK Depot
NYCT Zerega Training Center
Staten Island Railway Command
LIRR Jamaica Command Center
Penn Station Central Control (both Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak personnel)
LIRR Maintenance of Equipment Crew Dispatching Office
LIRR West Side Storage Yard
Metro-North Grand Central Terminal
Metro-North Croton Harmon Yard
Bridges & Tunnels Operations Command Center
MTA Police Department Command Center

The MTA says it has taken aggressive action to battle the COVID-19 pandemic since the early days of its arrival in New York. The organization has distributed millions of pieces of personal protective equipment, including 2.5 million pairs of gloves and nearly 500,000 masks, since March 1.

To protect employees, the MTA also began handing out masks to all employees before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later issued new guidance recommending all Americans wear masks.

The MTA continues its comprehensive disinfecting efforts systemwide with trains and buses being disinfected nightly, with the entire fleets for all agencies - more than 8,000 train cars and 5,000 buses - completed every 72 hours or less, since March 2.

The MTA has also implemented rear-door boarding and eliminated cash transactions to prevent person-to-person contact to ensure the safety of operating employees.

The health and safety of the MTA's employees and customers continue to be the agency's top priority.

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