The MTA has reduced its official COVID-19 death count from 131 to 126 after discovering some transit workers who succumbed to the virus didn’t work in 2020, agency officials confirmed Sunday.
Five Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees who died from the disease were deemed inactive — a designation given to employees on leave or disability — before the pandemic slammed New York in March, according to transit officials.
The cause of death of another worker was determined to be a heart attack rather than COVID-19, officials said.
One more MTA worker was killed by the virus Oct. 1 — the first the agency reported since June — which brought the agency’s official number of COVID-19 deaths to 126.
The MTA board in April guaranteed a $500,000 payout to the families of agency employees who died from COVID-19 after working during the pandemic. Under the policy, workers are presumed to have caught the virus at work if they later died from a confirmed case of the disease.
The families of the inactive workers removed from the MTA’s official COVID-19 list are not eligible for the death benefit.
“While the confirmed number of COVID-19-related fatalities has decreased, we mourn the loss of every member of the MTA family who has passed in this horrible year," MTA spokesman Ken Lovett said.
As of Sunday, the MTA had issued 64 of the 126 death benefit payments and approved another 31, said Lovett. Transit officials are working to approve the remaining payments, and in some cases must determine which member of a late worker’s family is entitled to the benefit.
The $500,000 benefit was approved by the MTA board as the pandemic was peaking in New York City.
All but one of the confirmed COVID-19 deaths among the agency’s employees were recorded between March 26 and June 4, according to data compiled by the Daily News.
The agency’s frontline workforce was so hard-hit by the pandemic in March and April that transit officials temporarily slashed subway and bus service due to a shortage of healthy employees.
MTA officials believe roughly 7.3% of NYC Transit employees caught the virus, while an NYU survey released last week estimated a whopping 24% of the workforce tested positive for the disease.
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