COVID NYC: MTA warns of delays due to worker shortage because of omicron variant

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
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Chantee Lans reports as the MTA is warning riders that they should expect delays and fewer trains as the agency operates with fewer workers.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The MTA is alerting passengers that fewer trains will be running through at least Thursday due to staffing shortages because of a high number of COVID-19 cases among MTA workers.

The agency says it's taking steps to try to make service as consistent and reliable as possible, but that there may be long wait times for trains.

Governor Kathy Hochul said the state will not require MTA workers to be vaccinated, fearing it would exacerbate current staffing shortages. Currently, unvaccinated MTA workers can get tested weekly.

"We've not seen a spike or any kind of spread related to these individuals. In the meantime, we cannot do anything that's going to create a dynamic where there are no trains picking people up for their jobs in the morning or getting healthcare workers to their jobs in hospitals," Hochul said.

On Monday, several new COVID-19 testing sites opened across the city, including two targeting busy Midtown subway stations, marked the first time state-funded PCR testing was being done in the subways.

The testing is available at the Times Square subway station and at Grand Central Terminal, on top of seven other new brick and mortar testing sites opening across the five boroughs.

Penn station will have a testing site on Thursday, along with other subway sites in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and two in Queens.

The MTA says the tests are available to anyone who wants them, including illegal immigrants and tourists.

The J&J vaccine was offered at pop-up sites in subway stations earlier this year, and Moderna vaccines and boosters are now being offered.

The MTA says more than 37,000 people have been vaccinated at those sites.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to enforce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all New York City businesses took effect Monday.

The mayor announced the mandate earlier this month, which requires all private-sector workers to show proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to their employers.

Those employers must keep full records of their workers' vaccination statuses.

The mayor said businesses that do not comply could face a fine that starts at $1,000.

"We will start the most important, most aggressive vaccine mandate in the entire country for all private-sector employees and that's what's going to see us through," he said. "We are going to find our way through this and then put the COVID era behind us."

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Another city mandate that started Monday requires anyone 12 and older to show proof of two vaccine doses to dine indoors, enter gyms, and indoor entertainment venues like the movies and Broadway shows.

There is an exception for those who received the single-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.

De Blasio said the city had administered 180,000 booster vaccine doses since he announced a new $100 incentive, which runs through the end of the year.

He said the incentive increased the number of booster shots from 1.7 million doses to more than 1.9 million.

ALSO READ | Pediatric hospitalizations up 395% in NYC amid COVID-19 surge

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