A senior official announced on Monday that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will extend a policy granting death benefits to vaccinated employees who die from COVID-19 through the end of the year.
The authority has provided a $500,000 death benefit to its nearly 68,000 employees since last year, according to The New York Times. But when coronavirus vaccines became more widely available in April, the organization made the decision to only offer those benefits to families of vaccinated individuals.
Tim Minton, a spokesperson for the authority, told the Times on Monday that only three MTA employees have died of COVID-19–related causes since June, when the policy was implemented, and none of their families has yet sought to get the death benefit. Minton did not address whether those employees were vaccinated. A total of 171 MTA employees have died of COVID-19–related causes since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We want each of our employees to get every single benefit that they are entitled to,” Minton said, adding that the authority has provided several incentives, including paid time off, to encourage employees to get vaccinated.
According to Minton, more than 70 percent of MTA employees have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Lower rates of vaccination are seen among employees for transit divisions, like trains and buses, the Times noted.
It is not currently mandatory for MTA employees to get vaccinated, but the authority will begin requiring weekly COVID-19 tests on Oct. 12 for those who do not have proof of vaccination.