For the first time in its history, New York City deliberately shut down its entire subway system this morning

Following reports of homeless New Yorkers sleeping on the trains and the deaths of numerous subway employees, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has decided to close New York's subway system from 1am to 5am every evening for a deep cleaning. New York continues to be the national center of the COVID-19 outbreak. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

For the first time in its 115-year history, New York City deliberately shut down its entire subway system Wednesday morning.

The reason: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) deep-cleaned to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures," MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said late Tuesday.

The New York City subway has been shut down because of weather: Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. During the blizzard of 2015, the system canceled passenger service, but equipment trains kept running.

But this is the first planned shutdown.

The cleanings will be done on a nightly basis, from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. When the cleaning is done, every single subway car will be disinfected.

"This is critical to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers," said Foye.