When people think of essential workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they are probably thinking of doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers working hard to help people in need. However, the title of essential worker is much broader than that image, with people like garbage collectors, post office employees and public transportation workers all clocking in to ensure the world keeps on spinning while others are stuck inside.

Unfortunately, the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or the NYC MTA, has been hit especially hard by COVID-19. The agency has seen 41 employees die due to the coronavirus so far. This information comes from a report published by The New York Times. While these numbers are high, MTA officials have said they are doing their best to keep employees safe. “The MTA has taken aggressive action to protect the health and safety of our heroic work force on the front lines of this crisis,” Patrick J. Foye, an MTA chairman, told The New York Times.

While that statement might sound optimistic, The New York Times reports that around 1,500 MTA employees have tested positive for COVID-19, including Foye. It was also mentioned that over 5,500 employees have self-quarantined.

The MTA has provided its employees with masks, face shields and gloves. It was also mentioned that trains and buses are being cleaned every three days, and that the MTA has adjusted its schedule to reduce train frequency by 25 percent. Unfortunately, these measures may not be enough to help protect workers. If this trend continues, even MTA employees think more drastic measures will be taken. “Eventually the subway is going to shut down by default because no one is going to come in to run it,” Christopher Miller, a train operator who has worked for the MTA for 18 years, told The New York Times.

Despite these issues, the MTA says there shouldn't be another reduction in service. “We are severely constrained by crew availability, but we have no plans to further reduce service at this time,” Abbey Collins, an MTA spokeswoman, told The New York Times. “Our first priority is the health and safety of our employees and customers, and the MTA continues to adapt and respond to this evolving situation in real time.”