MTA chairman says he’ll disregard CDC guidelines for coronavirus as more NYC transit workers get sick
MTA agency chairman Pat Foye said that he is forgoing CDC recommendations and will be supplying 75,000 face masks to front line workers.(Carmine Galasso/AP)
The MTA’s top boss is fed up with guidelines from top government health officials who have for months said New York City’s front-line transit workers should not wear protective face masks.
“We’re no longer taking the advice of the CDC and the World Health Organization,” agency chairman Pat Foye said on MSNBC Tuesday. “We have decided not to take that advice going back to last week. We’re distributing north of 75,000 masks to our front line workers. That number will grow.”
Foye’s fiery announcement comes as at least eight Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees have died from coronavirus, with another 582 sick with disease and another 3,334 directed to quarantine after potential exposure.
Transit workers and union leaders for weeks earlier this month called for the distribution of protective face masks to contain the spread of the outbreak among the agency’s workforce.
But until Friday, when the MTA announced it secured tens of thousands of new masks for employees, transit honchos followed the guidance of the CDC. “We’re transportation professionals, not health professionals,” Foye said earlier in the month.
Foye, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, isn’t the only high-ranking New York official to question the wisdom of the CDC.
Gov. Cuomo on Saturday said he was taking a hard look at federal guidelines around protective equipment for health care workers.
“Many health care professionals are concerned that those (CDC) guidelines do not adequately protect the nurses and the doctors,” said Cuomo. “If we believe the CDC guidelines don’t protect health care professionals, we will put our own guidelines in place.”
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious, said the CDC was considering new guidelines around face masks, and may advise Americans to wear them whenever they’re out in public during the pandemic.