While public transit employees wait for their turn to receive vaccines, COVID-19 cases among MBTA employees spiked in recent weeks to their highest recorded level since the pandemic started last year.

The T hit a peak of 114 active workforce cases on Jan. 16, officials said Monday, which has since decreased to 100. Before this month, the pandemic-era high for the MBTA was 107 active cases on April 23.

Active cases on commuter rail operator Keolis hit their high in early December and have been on the decline, but remain at several dozen — well above infection levels in the spring — and third-party contractor cases are also at elevated levels.

“It’s a testimony to how hard folks are working to manage through this,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak told the MBTA Board. “We are managing through it, but I think sometimes we just lose touch because this has been going on for so long. This is a real and present danger.”

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that Massachusetts will advance to the second phase of his administration’s vaccine rollout plan next week, making doses available on Feb. 1 to people 75 years old and older.

Transit workers, most of whom have continued to work their usual in-person shifts and faced infection risks over the course of the pandemic, are in line to qualify for vaccines some time later in Phase 2.

Poftak said Monday that the agency will prepare a workforce vaccination effort in the coming months as eligibility arrives. Staff will not be required to get a vaccine, but officials plan to encourage as many as possible to take it, he said.

(Copyright (c) 2020 State House News Service.

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