A group of contractors, who say they were hired to clean and disinfect New York City public transportation earlier this month as a way of slowing the spread of coronavirus on the “super-spreader” subway, claimed in a video posted to social media late last week that they were given only dirty rags and mops to work with and little to no personal protective equipment.
Local NYC news outlet, NY1, reports that “contract workers cleaning the subways of COVID-19 say in cellphone video the supplies they use are dirty and the personal protective equipment (PPE) they’re given is inadequate. One of the workers claims their lives are in danger while they’re not even able to make the subways safer.”
One worker who spoke to NY1 said that “she is fed up with being scared of working in conditions she claims are dangerous. She cleans the subways for the MTA, working for contractor LN Pro Services LLC.”
“She claims the company gives out the same old rags each day for an entire shift, and mops which are not cleaned properly after each shift, nor are they able to clean them during shifts,” the outlet said Friday.
Just a week ago, for the first time since the pandemic started, New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the subways, which many believe are responsible for NYC’s high number of coronavirus cases, shut down overnight and deep cleaned.
Workers, CNN said, tackled the job of deep cleaning and disinfecting more than 500 individual subway stations and hundreds of train cars, trying to make New Yorkers’ daily commutes safer. New York, of course, has been the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States with nearly half of all infections in the United States and a large percentage of COVID-19 deaths.
An MIT study from last month called the subway a “major disseminator” of coronavirus, though it may still be too early to know precisely why New York City was hit so hard by the novel disease, which originated in China. At the very least, though, the study’s author says, “we know that close contact in subways is fully consistent with the spread of coronavirus, either by inhalable droplets or residual fomites left on railings, pivoted grab handles, and those smooth, metallic, vertical poles that everyone shares.”
New York is trying to mitigate that spread — a task that is made markedly harder, subway workers say, when they lack necessary, clean equipment.
“The mop ends as you see it: black. We started using it since this morning,” one worker is shown saying in the cellphone video. “We are supposedly disinfecting, and that is a lie. We are not disinfecting. If you clean your house with a dirty mop the whole day, you are not cleaning your house; you are simply spreading the same dirt inside your house.”
The city has yet to comment on the report, and the worker’s claims have not been independently verified.
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