CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago can start reopening for business and getting people back to work on Monday, June 3.
But with that comes new concerns about how people will get to and from work safely.
On Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot talked about a specific plan for the Chicago Transit Authority that includes adding train cars and enhanced cleaning.
But CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov obtained an internal CTA audit that paints a much different picture.
The audit was conducted just last week – providing a sampling of how CTA cleaning crews clean Red and Blue line train cars.
Among the disturbing observations and results are that there was no disinfectant in sight when the coronavirus is still a very real threat.
Chicago’s ‘L’ trains are supposed to be cleaned thoroughly every day. But that internal audit issued Friday, May 22, finds they’re not being cleaned properly at all.
“It’s definitely not being done correctly,” said one longtime CTA employee who wants to remain anonymous.
Kozlov asked the employee why he was talking to her.
“Because I’m concerned about the spread of the disease because of employees. I’m concerned about the spread of the disease to the people of Chicago, and as the city is about to open up a little more, starting Friday,” he said.
The employee is also familiar with the May 22 report, in which a CTA environmental, health, and safety team watched cleaning crews – called servicers – clean train cars at the end of the Blue Line at O’Hare International Airport, and at both ends of the Red Line at the Howard and 95th stops.
At the Howard terminal in Rogers Park on Tuesday, May 19, the report noted “there was notably no disinfectants present….”
The only cleaning items there were graffiti remover, a can of foam cleaner, and an unlabeled body of green liquid, the report said.
The report went on to note there was “no wipe-down,” and the servicers
“only went through cars and swept.”
“High touch areas were not addressed,” the report said, and “a thorough cleaning was not being done.”
“They’re wiping things down with no masks. They don’t know what chemicals are being used, so it’s definitely a problem,” the CTA employee said.
At the 95th Street stop on the Dan Ryan Expressway, there were similar red flags. The team found three servicers there, and one servicer, the report said, just “walked back and forth.”
The only supplies present, the report said, were a towel, air freshener spray, and a foam cleaner.
The report added that at 95th, “None of the servicers wiped down the high touch surfaces within the interior of the train cars.”
And then there are the tests for overall cleanliness. The results shown in the report as numbers.
The CTA employee said he was alarmed by “the high numbers, where it should be under 50, and you’ve got numbers as high as 600, 700. That means that the equipment is extremely germy and dirty.”
At O’Hare on Monday, May 18, the report shows numbers in the hundreds – 607 on a door handrail, 339 on a seat handrail. There, only four of the 28 areas tested passed.
There are similar results from the Red Line stops.
The employee said retraining is needed – at minimum.
“Somebody at the top is not doing what they are supposed to be doing at the CTA,” the employee said.
CTA spokesman Brian Steele verified the report, saying it is part of an internal audit system to review cleaning efforts. He said staff are still going over the specifics of the documents.
Steele also said the audit only focuses on one small part of the system’s overall cleaning protocols in place. As for what changes will be made because of these results, if any, he didn’t specify.
Steele did not say if the employees would be retrained of if they would face any disciplinary actions.
In a follow-up statement, the CTA Communications Department was careful to sidestep that question, as well as commenting directly on the audit results.
Source: CBS Chicago