Amtrak overcoming the Pandemic; back to tri-weekly service?

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This is the date Amtrak set as deadline for employee vaccination....
What happens to the workers who are refusing? Current employer puts them on leave. I assume this is the same for most union work places. I have never seen so many people call out sick before.
 

neroden

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You are getting closer.... but, Conductors (not assistant Conductors) must pass the same route qualification tests as the Engineers, so they will need a comparable amount of time.
Thanks for the clarification.

Assistant conductors with some experience (and there certainly are enough) can take the job of conductors if there aren't enough conductors, according to everything I've read. I suppose they would need route qualification, but that's 2 months or whatever for an *existing* employee, which honestly shouldn't be a huge issue if Amtrak started preparing a month ago. Meanwhile, new assistant conductors can be hired and trained... probably in less than 6 months.

The 6 months for training entirely new engineers seems like the longest lead time problem.
 

neroden

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And exactly how was Amtrak to know six months ago that 1) there would be so many people who would rather lose their jobs instead of getting a vaccine,
ASK THEM. The fact is that the number of people who claimed they would quit their jobs rather than get vaccinated... has been larger than the number who actually do quit. So if Amtrak had ASKED the employees, they would have a very solid upper limit on the number of employees they'd need to replace, and could start hiring. Worst case? They hire too many people and have an overly large extra board.

and 2) exactly which crew bases would need to have these crew members hired into in order to avoid such a shortage?
Repeat: ASK.

Many employers, in fact, did survey their employees, saying "We may be mandating Covid-19 vaccines as a condition of employment in the future. If we did this, would you continue to work for us or not?"
 

flitcraft

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ASK THEM. The fact is that the number of people who claimed they would quit their jobs rather than get vaccinated... has been larger than the number who actually do quit
Indeed. In every case that I am aware of, the number of employees that, when asked, said they wouldn't get vaccinated has exceeded the number that, in the end, did get vaccinated. At my place of employment, about 10% of our workforce said that they wouldn't get vaccinated if it were required. In the end, the number who filed for medical or religious exemptions was much less than half that number, and the number whose exemptions were refused and who quit rather than be vaccinated was almost zero.
 

Bob Dylan

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Indeed. In every case that I am aware of, the number of employees that, when asked, said they wouldn't get vaccinated has exceeded the number that, in the end, did get vaccinated. At my place of employment, about 10% of our workforce said that they wouldn't get vaccinated if it were required. In the end, the number who filed for medical or religious exemptions was much less than half that number, and the number whose exemptions were refused and who quit rather than be vaccinated was almost zero.
This used to be called "Put your Money where your Mouth is!"
 

west point

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I like the Delta air way. Charge them extra medical insurance and require tests that employees have to pay for as well. They are higher risk just like over weight and smokers.
As for bus drivers . Our school systems around here are very short bus drivers and are having to change hours for certain grades so buses can make more trips. One working drive told me she like the overtime. Each system different. a
 

me_little_me

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Thanks, OBS. Perhaps Amtrak should change it to Jan 4 to be in line with the government and avoid massive disruption to holiday travelers.
Sensible Amtrak planning? An oxymoron. That's why there are shortages of cars and people.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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I was at the office today, found a another driver facing employee that was not vaccinated. He was under the weather with a low grade temperature. He has not test for Covid, as he still has his smell, and of course no mask.

His position required me to interact with him.

Yeah Amtrak could of plan better, but there not the only ones having issues.
 
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pennyk

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Moderator Note: please keep your comments on the topic of Amtrak's overcoming the pandemic and whether it will return to triweekly service. Thank you for your cooperation.
 

neroden

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So, an anonymous source from inside Amtrak says that sure enough, as every other business discovered, as the mandate gets closer and closer to going into effect the vaccination rates are going higher and higher. They may not have to cut any service at all, and if they do it'll likely just be one or two routes, but they still don't know for sure.

It appears that Amtrak is subject to the federal contractor mandate, for which the deadline was extended to January 18th, so there won't be any cuts until after Christmas.
 

CACharger262

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It appears that Amtrak is subject to the federal contractor mandate, for which the deadline was extended to January 18th, so there won't be any cuts until after Christmas.
Received official word today that no employees will be removed from service until January 4th, due to the change in the federal contractor mandate. This will presumably push back whatever planned, rumored or otherwise triweekly or state service cuts since now train, engine, and OBS employees that were going to be removed from service on December 8th will now be allowed to work regardless of vaccination status at least until January.

Of course this will all probably change again next Monday, but this is the latest news for you all. Hopefully any of your planned holiday travel is unaffected. Amtrak supposedly will release a revised service schedule in mid December based on the vaccination rates at the time. Whether or not this will be retconned just like post Thanksgiving week triweeklys just was, remains to be seen.
 

neroden

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Well, if anyone is inside Amtrak and knows holdouts, do tell 'em to get vaccinated. Some people have now caught Covid 3 times; infection-induced immunity is not good. Covid has been leaving lasting, permanent damage throughout the body and brain in a lot of people. It's just not worth risking -- even with some real risks, the vaccine is much less risky than the disease for anyone who isn't in a bubble (and nobody on a train is in a bubble).

Hopefully Amtrak is successfully hiring new staff at the same time. Amtrak will be expanding service next year (if nothing else, the Ethan Allen extension), and needs to restaff dining on all the Eastern trains, so they'll need more staff anyway!
 

jis

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Some very useful and more or less verified information of relevance to the subject matter of the thread here....

 

AmtrakBlue

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Some very useful and more or less verified information of relevance to the subject matter of the thread here....

You should post this on the “announcement “ thread for those who complained that the sale is only good for the NEC
 

enviro5609

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Some very useful and more or less verified information of relevance to the subject matter of the thread here....

Seems pretty clear to me from the article that the service reduction is a scare tactic. They will go through with it if they have to, and are preparing to do so, but I doubt it will come to that. Every other employer mandate has also gone down to the wire, with most of the holdouts waiting till the last minute before getting vaccinated/exhausting their accommodation requests.

NYC municipal employees are the latest example. There was a whole lot of noise made about police, fire and sanitation services being cut, but it ended up being just that— noise.
 

neroden

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As I've been telling everyone, well-fitting masks work against every variant. If everyone wears them all the time.

The problem is that they work best if infected people wear them -- they're better at stopping outgoing viruses than incoming viruses, though they do help with both.

And a lot of infected people don't know they're infected. And too many of those people are acting like Typhoid Mary, who continued to insist that she wasn't infected even after she was proven to be a carrier. There are just too many maskless people, and the pandemic is going to keep going until enough people start wearing their masks in public. No pandemic has ever been stopped by vaccination alone; public health precautions are necessary too.

From what I've been reading, Amtrak has been getting better and better about enforcing the mask rules, which makes me more comfortable on Amtrak than I am in most public spaces right now. But IMO they still shouldn't be having people eat outside private rooms, frankly, IMO, because you have to take your mask off to eat. Amtrak also has much better ventilation than most buildings and better than many airplanes, which also helps.

But again, one unmasked carrier, who's infected but doesn't realize it, can infect a lot of people very quickly, even with good ventilation and with other people wearing masks.

If everyone wears masks, they can be spectacularly effective; the South Korean study on masks on public transport, which looked at cases where masks were worn correctly and consistently, showed that they reduced transmission by 93%.
 

jis

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I suspect many people in Florida might wear a mask only if the virus visibly sat on their nose like a famous Florida Mosquito. Otherwise they apparently won't.

Yesterday at a Walgreen's a man who was not wearing a mask was filling up paperwork to get a dose of the Pneumovax 4 years ahead of schedule because he claimed he was immunocompromised due to undergoing Chemotherapy for some sort of Cancer. I just stood there shaking my head. I suppose vaccine is better than none, but what does he suppose his compromised immune system is going to do with a COVID attack which he was inviting by his behavior.

Then there was a lady at Publix, again not wearing a mask who meticulous;y wiped down the cart, every part of it down to the wheel mounts, with some half a dozen or so disinfectant wipes. It is good to know she won't catch COVID through an unlikely vector. Closing the dog door for the pet poodle while keeping the barn door open comes to mind. 🤷‍♂️ Possibly partly the continuing result of the early poor communication from the CDC, which is what people remember while having shut off everything else?
 
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west point

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We know that there are a few normal persons vaccinated who get what is called crossover cases. Although crossovers are almost always mild there is still possibility of them spreading C-19 to non Vaxed especially infants.
 

jis

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We know that there are a few normal persons vaccinated who get what is called crossover cases. Although crossovers are almost always mild there is still possibility of them spreading to non Vaxed especially infants.
Did you mean "breakthrough cases"? I thought "crossovers" were a kind of a car 🤔
 

MARC Rider

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We know that there are a few normal persons vaccinated who get what is called crossover cases. Although crossovers are almost always mild there is still possibility of them spreading C-19 to non Vaxed especially infants.
In order to assess the risk from the breakthrough cases, we'd need to know stuff that the ratio of breakthrough cases to total cases, and the ratio of breakthrough cases to the number of people vaccinated vs. the rate of cases in unvaccinated people. Have medical researchers done anything to assess these risks? I haven't seen these sorts of data anywhere I've looked. Also, I'd like to see if someone has any quantitative information about the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers, which I think would be one of the most important things to know if we're going to get a handle on controlling the pandemic.
 

neroden

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In order to assess the risk from the breakthrough cases, we'd need to know stuff that the ratio of breakthrough cases to total cases, and the ratio of breakthrough cases to the number of people vaccinated vs. the rate of cases in unvaccinated people. Have medical researchers done anything to assess these risks? I haven't seen these sorts of data anywhere I've looked.
Yes, I've seen it. Mostly from the countries or localities where nearly everyone is vaccinated though, which makes the math easier. I haven't seen the data disentangled in a reasonable way from a poorly-vaccinated country like the US.

Breakthrough cases are getting significant in the nearly-fully-vaccinated countries like Israel. They are still much less likely than cases among the unvaccinated -- some estimates were saying 1/10 as likely, and I believe that.

But unfortunately the new variants are VERY contagious. Delta far more contagious than the Baseline strain, Omicron possibly up to 50 times more contagious than the baseline strain. And the baseline strain was pretty contagious! So even if we forcibly vaccinated everyone, that by itself is just not good enough to prevent transmission. We need at least one extra layer of public health defense to get this shut down, and masks are the best candidate for that layer.

Because if everyone wears masks they seem to also reduce transmission to 1/10 what it would be otherwise, or better, from the South Korean studies. If vaccines reduce transmission by a factor of 10 and masks reduce transmission by a factor of 10 then both together is a factor of 100 -- reducing transmission to 1/100 what it was among the unvaccinated-unmasked population -- and now we're actually getting somewhere.

(Also, Omicron is vaccine-resistant, though it's not clear exactly how much. So far it looks like, against Omicron, everyone wearing masks but not being vaccinated would be somewhat *more* effective than everyone being vaccinated but not wearing masks. Of course both vaccinated and masked is better.)

Also, I'd like to see if someone has any quantitative information about the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers, which I think would be one of the most important things to know if we're going to get a handle on controlling the pandemic.
This has been quite hard to measure because most countries don't have surveillance testing. A few results from universities and other such places which do do surveillance testing was suggesting that at least HALF of all cases were asymptomatic. Possibly more.

Specific case tracing from South Korea IIRC (or maybe it was Singapore? Or Hong Kong? I'm getting a few of the studies mixed up at this time) was showing that asymptomatic carriers were the source of huge superspreader events in multiple cases, so the asymptomatic carriers are actually key to stopping the pandemic.

The asymptomatic carriers need to wear their masks, and any of us could be one of them -- unless you're taking two rapid tests per day you just don't know.
 

neroden

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🤷‍♂️ Possibly partly the continuing result of the early poor communication from the CDC, which is what people remember while having shut off everything else?
There have been some massive communications failures. #1 was the incorrect messaging from WHO and the CDC repeating the "ballistic droplet dogma". Aerosol scientists had to mount a large campaign to convince WHO of the facts, which is that Covid is an aerosol -- there have been some articles about this and about how the "droplet dogma" originally got created by people who misread and misunderstood scientific papers. This took several months in 2020, and the first few months had *worldwide* misinformation coming from WHO in the form of the "droplet dogma".

I was first alerted to the real facts by this article in July 2020: Arguments Against Aerosol Transmission Don't Hold Water

The scientific and medical community conceded the facts in response to the papers and studies of the aerosol scientists in roughly September 2020. Unfortunately, a lot of people still don't know that Covid is primarily spread by aerosols. Biggest communications disaster of the pandemic and it was worldwide.

#2 communications failure is probably the CDC saying that vaccinated people could stop wearing masks, a disastrous error which was just this summer. No, that's never been how it worked. They backed off and said "in areas with low community transmission" a bit later, but the damage was done. All of the US is in high community transmission, or worse, but people didn't absorb the second message and only absorbed the inaccurate first message.
 

MARC Rider

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There have been some massive communications failures. #1 was the incorrect messaging from WHO and the CDC repeating the "ballistic droplet dogma". Aerosol scientists had to mount a large campaign to convince WHO of the facts, which is that Covid is an aerosol -- there have been some articles about this and about how the "droplet dogma" originally got created by people who misread and misunderstood scientific papers. This took several months in 2020, and the first few months had *worldwide* misinformation coming from WHO in the form of the "droplet dogma".
Considering that the "droplet dogma" was pretty much the accepted medical consensus in February 2020, changing the medical establishment's mind in a few months isn't really that bad. According to the article (below), it took a good bit of time-consuming historical digging to figure out the error that led to the droplet dogma. It just shows that there's no such thing as "The Science," and scientists are human like the rest of us. As for myself, I will listen to maverick scientists who might be right (as they were in this case), but I won't always immediately take their suggestions until the evidence start stacking up. And it's very commonly hard to distinguish between mavericks, who buck the consensus and are right, and charlatans who would lead us to do really stupid things, like, say, take certain veterinary medicines in hope they will cure Covid.

The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill | WIRED

In any event, CDC was telling us to mask up by the end of March 2020, and the subsequent mess isn't just the fault of "bad messaging" by the public health establishment, it's also due to seemingly willful misunderstanding of the facts by the public, the media, and people in political authority who should have known better. As to why they were so reluctant to mask up and social distance, that's something that only a psychologist can answer.
 
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