Nassau County officials held a news conference to discuss coronavirus on March 10, 2020. Photo by Adam Brownstein/Long Island Press

Amid growing concerns of Long Islanders catching the coronavirus by riding public transportation, Long Island officials are implementing new public transportation protocols to keep the virus from spreading.  

The Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) bus system and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) that runs the Long Island Rail Road have both recently announced new protocols that they hope will help ease the concerns of riders. 

“We are encouraging everyone to go about their daily business, but some people are concerned,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters on Tuesday. “We will continue to update protocols as needed to ensure the continued health and well being of [mass transit] riders and employees.”  

Precautions the MTA and NICE have include deep cleaning and sanitizing all trains, buses, and para-transit vehicles, with an emphasized focus on high-touch areas such as polls, handrails, seats, benches, grab bars, ticket machines, and turnstiles. 

The NICE Bus company is also installing touchless hand sanitizer stations in various locations and providing public service messages regarding personal health on all vehicles and at all transit centers. Curran said that these messages will be provided in both English and Spanish.  

Similarly, the MTA has begun to air health guidance Public Service Announcements in stations, trains, and buses, and will complete full sanitization of all trains and buses consistently throughout 72 hours periods 

Additionally, the MTA has bought a lasting inventory of necessary cleaning and hygienic supplies and is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (DOH), and other government agencies.    

“The safety of our customers and employees is our first priority as we continue to monitor the coronavirus,” said MTA Chief Safety Officer Patrick Warren. “The MTA is enhancing its cleaning regimen across all our operating agencies to ensure the system is safe for everyone. The best defense against COVID-19, according to the National Centers for Disease Control, continues to be good hygiene – frequent hand washing and self-care.”

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby sees these precautions, among others, as steps in the right direction for Long Islanders to overcome the epidemic. 

“Hopefully we will all get through this and I’m sure we will with all the precautions we have taken,” said Goosby.

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