Exposures on Several Class 1 Railroads Increased This Week

Published: Jun 19 2020 3:10PM

There has been a rash of positive COVID-19 cases this week on five separate Class 1 railroads. In total, 109 BMWED members have been affected by a COVID-19 exposure this week alone. Of those, 15 are positive with the virus, the remaining 94 are on required self-contained quarantine, many on traveling production gangs far from home. The expectation of doctors are that several of the 94 in quarantine will test positive in the coming days.

Based on data we have been able to obtain, on CSX 24  BMWED have been exposed; BNSF has 25 exposures; Amtrak has four; Norfolk Southern has 32; and Canadian National has 24. Not only are the members now exposed, but potential their spouses and children.

The spread is not slowing and, in some regions and railroads, appears to be growing.

Since March, three BMWED members have died from the virus.

Obviously, it is extremely difficult to contain a virus while continuing to work. Exposures are inevitable. Unfortunately, people will get sick.

However, there are precautions we can take. First, if you are experiencing any symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath) do not go to work.  CALL YOUR SYSTEM OFFICER IMMEDIATELY and notify your railroad as soon as possible.
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. We’ve all done it before. 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. You know the drill.

Some railroads are now requiring face coverings for everyone. CSX announced it this week. When hard hats and safety-reflective vests and glasses and ear protection were all first required, many people balked at the uncomfortableness of it all. We know it stinks. It’s hot and unpleasant. But, just like the PPE that came before it, it does help. And it helps protect others. Sometimes railroaders are asked to do things with other people in mind, like covering your sneeze, or not blowing the train whistle after 9 p.m. out of courtesies to others.

Please be safe and if you feel sick, call your Vice Chairman immediately and do not go to work. It is important that we all do our part.