NEW YORK - The MTA death toll from coronavirus hit 41 transit workers as of Wednesday. About 1,500 employees have tested positive.
It’s a staggering figure at a transit agency that employs 70,000 - more than double the number of deaths at the NYPD and FDNY combined.
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It took the life of bus driver William Scott, who died Sunday at the age of 52.
His partner Tanya Moses described Scott as a family man, a father of three, with many talents like singing - and dedicated to his job.
“He would like to get up early in the morning to go to work when there was not a lot of traffic," Moses said. "He just loved it.”
His last day of work was March 22 - the day Gov. Cuomo's PAUSE order that closed down non-essential businesses went into effect.
"He still went. He didn’t stop," Moses said. "He still went, up until he couldn’t do it."
All of the MTA workers who died worked in subway and bus divisions. Bus drivers like Scott have been particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. There are 11 bus drivers who died from coronavirus, far more than any other MTA job title.
Union officials who represent MTA bus drivers believe transit and government officials were too slow to act.
“I think our officials got it wrong," said John Costa, international president for the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents MTA bus drivers in Queens and Staten Island. "We needed those masks earlier. We needed to barricade them better in their compartments, in their driving areas, and we needed to have less people on the buses."
“We’re exposed to more people on a daily basis," said Richard Davis, who represents Manhattan and Bronx bus workers for Transport Workers Union Local 100. "More one-on-one contact.”
The MTA had discouraged workers from wearing masks, citing guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
But transit officials in late March abandoned that guidance and started to hand out thousands of masks. Workers say one mask is supposed to last all week.
Before bus driver Ernesto Hernandez fell ill and died from coronavirus, he told his son he wanted protective gear.
“Gloves, mask, eyewear, anything like that he was never given that, until he got sick and did not go back to work," Hernandez's son, Steven Jimenez said. “He said he wish he had some. But he said none of his colleagues and no one he knew had it.”
The top transit official at the MTA said these workers are on the front lines of this war, and are in the direct line of fire.
A sentiment shared by Jimenez.
"They sacrificed a lot, I have to say," Jimenez said.