NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A new study suggests New Yorkers using the city’s public transportation network are at a low risk of being infected with coronavirus during their commute.
The report, published by Sam Schwartz and his team, was released Tuesday and suggests there is no correlation between the spread of COVID-19 and mass transit systems.
“We have found no clusters related to transit,” Scwartz said. “If people are wearing their masks, which is the single greatest defense tool they can have, then the risk gets minimized.”
He says the reason people were getting sick early on is because frontline workers were trying to get around.
“A greater percentage of them take public transportation. It wasn’t because they took public transportation, it was the fact that they took risks at their employment to ensure that we got taken care of if we had health needs, we got food, we got medicine,” he explains.
Schwartz pointed to the peak of the pandemic and compared Brooklyn to Staten Island. He notes that while Brooklyn has more transportation options, Staten Island had a greater number of cases.
“The case rate in Staten Island was higher than Brooklyn. And when you looked at why that might be – there’s a lot of essential workers in Staten Island,” he explains.
The research, which was conducted by a national association of transit agencies, found well-ventilated buses and trains along with mask usage is the reason commuters have been able to stay safe.
Schwartz says bus and train riders are relatively safe if they are spending a short amount of time on transportation, and noted that people who follow guidelines and travel by plane are also safe.
He says worldwide, there was only one case of a cluster, and it only impacted passengers.
“None of the staff – none of the flight attendants, pilots – they were all wearing masks, contracted the virus. So the ventilation system does appear to be pretty good on planes,” he said.
Schwartz adds that it’s not the mode of transportation that puts people at risk, but what they do when they reach their destination.
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