BRONX, N.Y. - A recorded message blaring from the loudspeakers at the Parkchester train station in the Bronx asks New Yorkers who are not essential employees to stay home.
For almost a month now, a large part of the city’s workforce has been doing just that. But for many people in the Bronx, working from home is just not an option.
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“And stay home? How are we going to stay home? How are going to run New York City," said one commuter.
Pedro Figueroa, a city employee, has been commuting to his office in Midtown Manhattan by train. The MTA has kept the public transit system operating with scaled down service, so that essential workers can get to and from work.
“You don’t what time you’re getting to work. You’re surrounded by many people. A lot of them are not covered, don’t have gloves on, especially the homeless. I don’t know why they haven’t been taken care of," Figueroa said.
The Bronx has more than twice as many confirmed COVID-19 cases per capita than Manhattan. Epidemiologists say one reason that Bronx residents are more likely to do the kinds of work that cannot be done from home, so they have to commute.
One Bronx straphanger didn’t want to be identified but says he’s not wary of riding the subway. He delivers medical prescriptions.
But many people still commuting say they are being extra cautious, like those waiting at a bus stop - almost everyone wearing a mask.
An MTA Spokesman tells NY1 they are "working hard to ensure the safety of essential workers. Crews are disinfecting more than 700 stations in the region twice a day and disinfecting the fleet of buses and trains constantly."
The essential workers NY1 spoke with say having to use public transportation is the most stressful part of their day and that the pandemic has forever changed their commute.
“I’m gonna stay with gloves and masks for the rest of my days," Figeuroa said.