OpEd: Thanks, LIRR Workers, For Keeping Trains Rolling During Pandemic

2020-03-19T182835Z_1875770560_RC26NF9S84O4_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-NEW-YORK (1)
A Car Appearance Maintainer with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) demonstrates the disinfecting methods of a train car from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Hicksville Station on Long Island in New York, U.S., March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

There aren’t enough thanks I could give the LIRR workforce for all the efforts and strides they’ve collectively made over the past six months to keep our region safe, and to keep Long Island moving. 

And that goes for you too — the public — for doing your part in helping us stop the spread. But as we see clusters of COVID-19 positive cases popping up in communities around the New York metropolitan area, it’s important that we stay vigilant. We must continue to protect one another. 

It was with a heavy heart that I shared the news Friday with colleagues that a member of the LIRR family, Kyle Fulcher, succumbed to COVID-19 Oct. 1. Kyle joined the LIRR almost two decades ago, working first as an electrician, and more recently as a training specialist.

Upon learning of Kyle’s positive COVID test, we moved quickly to protect the health and safety of those who worked with him. I hope you’ll join me in keeping Kyle’s family in your thoughts and prayers. 

As circumstances continue to evolve in our work lives and our personal lives, with many children across our region returning to in-person school instruction, we must continue to practice everything we’ve been doing, both at work and at home: wearing masks, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, giving each other extra space when we’re able to, and staying home if we don’t feel well. 

Riding public transportation remains a safe way to get around. We’re doing our part to keep it that way with increased cleaning and disinfection efforts at stations and on our trains, and handing out masks to riders who need one.

Now we need final enactment of the second HEROES Act passed by the House Thursday night to ensure our region continues to have critically robust and safe public transportation as we rebuild.

Since the height of the first wave of COVID-19 through New York, there has been much talk about preventing a second wave, which some experts have said is inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be, if we stay smart. 

Don’t let down your guard. Everything we did to flatten the curve is even more vital now. We cannot lose sight of all the losses we’ve already incurred and all the suffering that’s gone on.  

We owe it to everyone to do our best to avoid a surge in new cases. And it’s important to remember that you, yes you, have the power to stem this virus and help save lives. We must all contribute to this effort. 

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick. It’s not complicated, but it is imperative. 

Stay tough, New York. 

Phillip Eng is president of MTA Long Island Rail Road.

This OpEd first appeared on amNY.com

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