MARTA to require weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees

Written by David C. Lester, Editor-in-Chief
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While MARTA has not joined the ranks of those companies requiring all employees to be vaccinated, the agency now requires weekly testing.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) will begin requiring weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees beginning Monday, Oct. 4. Vaccinated employees must submit or upload a copy of their vaccination card to Human Resources to avoid weekly testing.

Almost half of MARTA employees are fully vaccinated, according to information available through county health departments, health benefits providers, and vaccination appointments scheduled through MARTA. An online and in-person survey conducted by MARTA Research & Analysis revealed most vaccinated employees work at headquarters and railyards, with bus garages having the lowest vaccination rate.

“COVID has hit our frontline employees hard. We’ve had close to 860 people sickened by the virus and have lost three members of the MARTA family to this insidious virus,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “COVID vaccines are safe, effective and necessary to bring this pandemic under control. We’ve been masking and cleaning and social distancing for 18 months now and it’s time to get our entire workforce vaccinated to protect not only themselves, but their families, co-workers, and customers.”

MARTA will provide on-site COVID testing and vaccines for one month at headquarters and bus garages to make access to these services more convenient. MARTA previously partnered with CVS and the Urban League to provide onsite vaccination services at headquarters and Laredo bus garage and has offered vaccine clinics for employees and customers at various locations. MARTA also held an employee town hall in conjunction with Morehouse School of Medicine to educate employees about the vaccine and has a vaccine incentive program for employees that includes giveaways and additional vacation time.

“These incentives did result in more vaccinations but we’re still not where we need to be,” said Chief Administrative Officer Luz Borrero. “We believe this is an occupational health and safety issue. Since September, we require all new hires to be vaccinated and are doing all within our power to ensure that the remaining part of our unvaccinated workforce who do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption get the vaccine.” 

Other large transit agencies including the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in New York City, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Washington, D.C. have begun similar testing requirements for unvaccinated workers. Locally, Fulton County recently began requiring weekly testing of unvaccinated employees.

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