Coronavirus News: Closing, cleaning subways 'monumental undertaking' says Cuomo

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Closing the New York City subways and disinfecting every train car will be a "monumental undertaking," Governor Andrew Cuomo said Saturday in Queens.

The governor and transit officials got a first-hand look at how the cleaning will be done at the MTA's maintenance facility in Corona.

"It's smart, it's labor-intensive, people have to wear hazmat suits, they have a number of chemicals that disinfect," Cuomo said. "Literally you have to go through the whole train with a misting device where they spray disinfectant literally on every surface."

Governor Cuomo called the closing of the subways from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. every night starting Wednesday "unprecedented," but said it's necessary to keep transit and essential workers safe.

"It's good and smart for the transit workers who have to work in that environment, but it's also right for the riding public," Cuomo said. "The essential workers who have kept this entire society functioning have done an extraordinary job. We want them to know we are doing everything we can do to keep them safe."

MTA chairman and CEO Pat Foye said between 10,000 and 11,000 people ride the subways during the early morning hours.

Foye said the authority has been communicating with hospitals, grocery stores and workers unions and the MTA will tailor bus service to accommodate their needs.

New York City Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg said the authority currently has a team of 900 cleaners and will be bringing on additional contractors.

Feinberg said the cleaning will take place 24 hours a day.

"For those who are riding the system during the day, they are going to see an uptick in a lot of cleaners that they probably did not see before," Feinberg said. "So you ride the train to the end of the station, or to the end of the line, you get out at the end of line station. Instead of just going off onto the platform and going upstairs, one of the things you are going to see this week is a whole bunch of cleaners boarding that train immediately, starting disinfecting work right then."

Governor Cuomo said the nightly closing of the trains is an opportunity to address homeless men and women who have been sleeping on trains.

"This will be the first time that I can remember that every homeless person by definition has to get off that train at one point," Cuomo said. "I think that is an opportunity to actually engage homeless people, find out what they need, and try and link them up with the services and the help."

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