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MBTA may resume COVID testing for employees as omicron threatens staffing

An MBTA bus driver stopped at a traffic light on Blue Hill Ave. wearing a face mask that reads,”Driving With Pride.” (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
An MBTA bus driver stopped at a traffic light on Blue Hill Ave. wearing a face mask that reads,”Driving With Pride.” (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

MBTA officials say they’re exploring options to resume COVID-19 testing for T employees, with an eye toward preventing service reductions in the midst of the latest surge.

Up until last month, the T offered workers free testing at its Everett facility. The program ended because demand decreased as more workers were vaccinated, according to spokesperson Joe Pesaturo.

Jim Evers, president of Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, which represents MBTA transit workers, hopes resumed testing will help maintain service as the omicron variant spreads even among the jabbed and boosted.

“The first thing that we always worry about is making sure that the riders can get to school, get to the hospital, and to work,” he said. “And that’s our first priority, even as the union, to make sure we can cover that. So, I’m hoping that we’re working in the right direction in this.”

The T had already reduced some bus service due to a shortage of drivers. The authority is currently trying to fill those positions.

In the meantime, Pesaturo said T officials are “closely monitoring staffing levels” and has “adopted the revised CDC recommendations” which reduced isolation time from 10 days to five days for those who test positive with asymptomatic or resolving COVID symptoms. After that time, they’re required to wear a mask when around others for five days.

Related:

Darryl C. Murphy Twitter Reporter
Darryl C. Murphy is a business reporter at WBUR.

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