New York City will shut down its subways every night to clean and disinfect them

AP Photo/John MinchilloNYPD and MTA officers wake up sleeping passengers and direct them to the exits at the 207th Street A-train station.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the MTA will shut subways overnight between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. to clean and disinfect trains to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Essential workers will be able to use city buses and rideshare services for free during the closures.
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is directing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency in charge of the city’s public transit, to shut down all trains in New York City each night so they can be cleaned and disinfected.

The trains won’t run between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., traditionally the hours with the least ridership, in order to disinfect surfaces which may be carrying and spreading the virus.

Essential workers will be provided free transit with buses, ride-sharing services, and ‘dollar’ vans during the closures.

Cuomo was joined by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during the Thursday morning announcement.

“We’re going to find a way to make our subway system cleaner that it has ever been in its history, probably,” de Blasio said, adding that cleaning the subways will take coordination among multiple city and state agencies.

Commuter trains on the Metro-North and Long Island Railroad will also be disinfected each night.

The shutdowns will start on Wednesday, May 6.

The closures mark the first time the subway has been shut down overnight in the city since Superstorm Sandy flooded many of the city’s tunnels in 2012.

It’s not yet clear how essential workers will be identified to obtain free transportation.

Here are the other key takeaways from Cuomo’s Thursday coronavirus update:

  • The state recorded 306 more deaths on Wednesday. Hospitalizations and intubations fell again, per the state’s department of health.
  • Still, 4,681 New Yorkers tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
  • Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg made an appearance via live stream. He’s heading up New York’s contact tracer program, in partnership with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • “One of the most important steps to take to re-open the economy as safely as possible is to create a system of contact tracing,” Bloomberg said. “When social distancing is relaxed, contact tracing is our best hope for isolating the virus when it appears – and keeping it isolated.”
  • The state is looking to hire between 6,400 and 17,000 contact tracers, initially drawing from local, county, and state health departments. The specific number will depend on testing, as Bloomberg said they need 30 tracers per 100,000 people.
  • Bloomberg will lead the program for selecting, training, and certifying the tracers, and bringing the program up to speed.
  • Cuomo called the scale of the contact tracer program “overwhelming.”
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio also joined Cuomo’s press conference via live stream to give updates on the subway cleaning and closures.
  • “We have the beast on the retreat, we’re making ground every day,” Cuomo said.

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