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The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division-IBT announced late last week a rash of positive coronavirus cases among its members at several major railroads.
The BMWED estimated 109 members were affected by a coronavirus exposure. Of those,15 individuals tested positive, while the remaining 94 are on required self-contained quarantine, union officials announced in a prepared statement.
"The expectation of doctors [is] that several of the 94 in quarantine will test positive in the coming days," they said. "The spread is not slowing, and, in some regions and railroads, appears to be growing."
Based on union-obtained data, the BMWED members who were exposed to the virus work for Amtrak, BNSF Railway Co., CSX, CN and Norfolk Southern Railway.
Since March, three BMWED members have died from COVID-19, according to the union.
Union leaders said members need to take precautions, including practicing physical distancing, not reporting to work if feeling sick, and wearing face coverings. Some railroads, such as CSX, are now requiring the wearing of masks, they said.
"One of the COVID-19 cases of this week resulting in quarantine originated from guys meeting together after work in a hotel room and sharing food," the statement read. "Part of being on the road is the camaraderie post-work. But we must be more cautious in a pandemic and we urge everyone to isolate and separate as much as possible. Go outside to hang out. Keep some distance."