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MTA to distribute almost 250,000 N95 masks to LIRR, other transit personnel

An N95 mask by 3M, seen Saturday.

An N95 mask by 3M, seen Saturday. Credit: Robert Sciarrino

The MTA will distribute nearly 250,000 N95 masks to its train conductors, bus drivers and bridge and subway operators, the agency announced Saturday.

Beginning Saturday, the Long Island Rail Road is expected to receive 40,429 N95 masks, which are in high demand as New York continues to see a surge of coronavirus cases. New York City Transit will get 159,000, according to an Metropolitan Transportation Authority news release.

In recent weeks, the MTA has been fighting a multi-front battle as ridership declined by 90% and hundreds of workers reported sick, spiking fear among some healthy workers.

MTA officials said the agency provided its employees with 3.2 million gloves, 240,000 masks, 45,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, 50,000 gallons of cleaning supplies and 7,000 boxes of sanitizing wipes since the outbreak began.

“We continue to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of the 74,000 of hardworking men and women who are keeping New York moving through this difficult time,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye, who has tested positive for coronavirus and is recuperating at home, in a statement.

Union officials have called the additional masks great news for the workers who have kept the transit system moving.

“This is welcomed news for our frontline employees who are the heartbeat of our system,” said Anthony Simon, general chairman of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, the LIRR’s largest union, in a statement. “They will give our conductors and all front-line members a little more comfort while performing essential transportation to keep Long Island and New York moving as safe as possible.”

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