MTA leaders on Wednesday defended the agency’s handling of the coronavirus crisis — even as the number of city transit workers killed by the virus surpassed 80.

Eighty-two workers have now died out of a workforce of around 55,000, but Chairman Pat Foye rejected the notion that the high toll — more than the city’s police or firefighters — shows the MTA didn’t do enough to protect its employees.

“New York is the epicenter of the pandemic. The transit workers who have passed away are, the data suggests, primarily male,” Foye told reporters over Zoom. “Many of them have underlying medical conditions, which the public health officials tell us is an issue with respect to the ability to survive this.”

“No one knows, in the public transit world, how the virus was spread, under what conditions in was spread,” he added, noting that he himself was infected.

Asked if he regretted the agency’s initial refusal to let workers wear masks, Foye once again blamed  health experts.

“I regret that the CDC and the World Health Organization gave the advice that they did … I do regret they gave that advice to the entire country,” he said.

Transit workers complained about a lack of protective gear and cleaning supplies during the initial weeks of the outbreak.

The MTA finally announced the distribution of masks to its workforce on March 27 — three weeks after an official agency memo obtained by The Post prohibited them because “masks are not medically necessary as a protection against COVID-19, and not part of the authorized uniform.”

The CDC officially recommended public sector workers wear face coverings on April 8.

Interim Transit President Sarah Feinberg on Wednesday said the MTA has distributed millions of gloves, thousands of face masks and other protective equipment, and called the MTA “the most aggressive transit agency in the country in acting quickly and decisively to protect our workforce.”