BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Hours before New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency over the spread of COVID-19, Amtrak announced it would temporarily suspend rail service between Washington D.C. and New York City.
Gov. Cuomo declared the state of emergency on Saturday afternoon, after the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state rose to 76, with 11 of those cases in New York City.
A few hours earlier, the Amtrak Media Center announced that it will be completely suspending its Acela Nonstop service between Washington D.C. and New York City starting Tuesday March 10 until Tuesday May 26. As travelers around the northeast grow more concerned about taking public transport, Amtrak said it is also waiving the change fees on "all existing or new reservations made by April 30, 2020."
Public transportation is a major concern for New York health officials. On Monday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) started cleaning all equipment and vehicles in the New York City subway, bus, and commuter railroad systems, from train cars to ticket machines.
Cleaners in hazmat suits and face masks have been seen scrubbing the insides of buses at the largest depot in Manhattan every 72 hours.
However, despite NYC transportation officials taking every precaution to slow the spread of the virus, ridesharing remains a problem. On Friday night, a cab driver in Queens walked into a hospital with flu-like symptoms. He later tested positive for COVID-19, prompting more than 40 doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff to go into self-quarantine.
Amtrak said it is enhancing its cleaning protocol by increasing the frequency of cleaning services to "multiple times a day, and in some cases, on an hourly basis." There will also be a reduction in the number of cars used on Amtrak's continuing services. The company said it decided to suspend the D.C. to NYC trains after "experiencing some reduced demand for our service."
The changes will not interrupt service for Amtrak's other high-speed Acela service, which runs between D.C., New York, and Boston.
The Amtrak announcement comes three days after the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said it would begin aggressively disinfecting stations and trains in response to the spread of COVID-19.
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