The global coronavirus pandemic has been causing panic and grief on a global scale. So far, over 110,000 cases have been reported globally and we have also seen over 3,800 deaths.
The US has confirmed several cases across various states and in order to stop the spread of the virus, various local authorities have been putting in place measures to address the crisis. Coronavirus is a highly contagious flu-like disease that may cause difficulty in breathing and other pneumonia-like symptoms.
One area where local authorities seem to be focusing their attention on is the public transport system. The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for example, is taking a lead role in disinfecting the local public transport system using bleach and other sanitation measures.
It’s not hard to see why the authorities are taking these measures. The New York subway serves over 8 million people a day and it’s usually very crowded. This is perhaps one of the easiest places where the virus could spread easily. According to reports, the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority is bringing in a large shipment of bleach and other antiviral treatments as it gets ready for an all-out war against the virus.
But it won’t be that easy. The hope for the authority is to disinfect every inch of the New York public transport system. Right now, there are about 472 subway stations in the city and a total of 648 train cars. The authority also operates 4,373 buses. The manpower and the effort needed to reach all these places will be massive. The fact that the authority says it will be disinfecting the public transport system every 72 hours makes the job even harder.
It’s not clear if the subway is entirely safe to use or not. In fact, there have been a lot of mixed messages from local authorities on the issue. Speaking to the public, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that the measures they have put in place are designed to make the subway safe but still insisted that people should try to avoid crowded train cars.
The subway is a huge lifeline in the city. If people are all of a sudden fearing for their safety while using the trains, it means they may need to find alternatives to move from one place to the other. This could unleash a wave of private cars and ride-hailing service providers in the city of New York, leading to massive traffic jams and congestion. This congestion, some will argue, is the same as the one we see on the subway each day.
So, ultimately, the hope for local officials is to convince the public that the subway is safe enough to use. But, of course, even that has a risk. Other countries like Italy have announced full lockdowns. The US is also restricting all flights from entering the country as part of the response.