That means the MTA has no vaccine mandate, which employs 67,000 people, many of whom work in New York City. Even before Omicron hit, the agency had 700 test locations set up for its employees across the city.
While the MTA believes 80% of its employees have received at least one shot of the vaccine, a recent breakdown by agencies shows that some have higher rates than others. The subway and bus division, which employs the most people, has a 73% vaccination rate, while the Long Island Railroad workers have the lowest at 68%.
Governor Kathy Hochul has so far denied requiring all state employees to be vaccinated.
At a subway yard in Upper Manhattan, maintenance supervisor David Known told Gothamist that of the hundreds of people working there, he suspects about half are out this week.
“Very little is being done,” said Nowen.
Novene herself started feeling ill on Wednesday and tested positive.
He followed MTA protocol and called the agency’s COVID hotline to report his results, but said he had to wait for more than two hours. Once he recovered, a person at the call center, who is not a medical professional, advised him to return to work on Monday.
“I’m a little worried about going back to work on Monday,” Nowen said. “I have a vaccine and a booster…but there are a lot of people I work with who don’t have a vaccine.”
Lieber said calls to the COVID hotline rose 300-400% this week, so the MTA asked third-parties to hire more workers to reduce wait times. And he said he is confident the MTA’s protocols for returning to work will soon ensure normalcy of service.
Gothamist obtained a Byzantine guide for workers to determine whether they should return to work: