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MTA is disinfecting subways and buses every 72 hours amid coronavirus fears

Collier Sutter
Written by
Collier Sutter

With two cases of coronavirus now confirmed in New York (and more expected to be confirmed), the MTA is stepping up its cleaning services on public transportation in hopes of preventing the virus from spreading.

Starting Monday night, MTA workers are scrubbing down the entire system using an “enhanced daily cleaning procedure,” the MTA said in a statement. 

“Commonly touched surfaces” such as MetroCard machines, turnstiles, handrails, elevator buttons and benches at transportation stations will be aggressively sanitized daily with bleach and hospital-grade disinfectant. These locations include the 472 subway stations across NYC, Staten Island Railway, and LIRR and Metro-North terminals.

The agency’s train cars, buses, and Access-A-Ride vans will also be disinfected every 72 hours until the COVID-19 virus is contained, officials said.

The deep cleaning plan comes after New York health officials confirmed the state’s first case of the respiratory illness, a 39-year-old health care worker returning from Iran who is now quarantined in her Manhattan apartment with her husband.

A second case, confirmed Tuesday morning, is a 50-year-old-man who lives in New Rochelle in Westchester County, but works in Midtown in New York City. He is currently checked into a Manhattan hospital. The man had not traveled abroad or to any areas with widespread cases of the virus, suggesting that community spread could be underway in parts of the state, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

"That spreading is inevitable. I said you'll start to see community spread cases and I think that’s what you’re seeing today," Cuomo said on Tuesday.

NYC health authorities are trying to trace the chain of transmission to find out which other New Yorkers may be infected. 

“City and State disease detectives are working closely to identify close contacts and the appropriate next steps,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said in a statement.

So far, COVID-19 virus has infected more than 88,000 people worldwide.

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