As many of you know, last week I led the charge against the MTA’s policy of not being allowed to wear face masks to protect ourselves against the coronavirus. Check out the story
One of the main reasons I felt this fight was necessary was because I personally believe we shouldn’t even be in the system with a massive virus outbreak going on!
If because of the “relatively low” death rate, we must compromise, then the very fact of us coming to work IS the compromise. We shouldn’t have to compromise personal protective equipment in addition to that! For those saying the masks don’t protect us, you’re misreading the guidance by the CDC. They are currently recommending that we don’t buy masks because there aren’t enough for healthcare workers if we all buy the masks. However, N95 masks (like the one pictured above) do provide protection against the coronavirus if worn properly if someone coughs or sneezes around you Checkout the story. When I say “we shouldn’t even be in the system,” I not only mean us employees, but also the public at large!
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN that he is trying to find a balance when considering whether or not to shut down the subway system. “ According to de Blasio, the goal is to strike a balance between restricting the spread of the disease while maintaining people’s livelihoods. Given that balance, he said he is not going to shut down the subway system that connects so much of the city. ‘If you do that, you’re shutting down the economy and work and livelihood,’ he said.” I am not surprised when I hear President Trump act like this is no big deal because we all know all he cares about is the economy and the stock market. However, I am extremely disappointed to hear a fellow progressive like de Blasio speaking this way, putting economics before health.
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday, called on governments to change the course of the outbreak by taking “urgent and aggressive action.” “Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled,” he said. “The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same – it’s whether they will.” He went on to say Governments had to “strike a fine balance between protecting health, minimizing disruption and respecting human rights”. Checkout the story.
It’s fair to say that Italy, who did not practice “social distancing” until it was too late, did not strike that right balance. Mayor de Blasio is not taking the social distancing idea seriously enough. Italy didn’t either and they now have over 1,000 deaths and were forced to basically shut the country down anyway, after the damage had already been done. So it’s not like we don’t have a footprint for this, as we’ve already seen the failures in Italy.
I think anyone with common sense could tell you that running these trains with 200 people packed in each car is not anyone’s idea of social distancing. New York State currently has the highest number of cases of coronavirus in the country, with New York City being a big chunk of that, and that’s even without adequate testing which would reveal exactly how widespread the virus has become.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, has gone on record stating that we should not be waiting for testing results before we begin mitigation and containment strategies (such as shutting down subways). “Regarding the shuttering of major firms and institutions, as well as quarantine efforts, Fauci said, “You need to do it proportionately. If you have a considerable amount or even the beginnings of community spread in your community, clearly you need to do very aggressive mitigation procedures.” Checkout the story.
So yes, the experts are saying that governments should find the right “balance” and “proportionality” when deciding what to shut down.
I just think it’s a no-brainer that the New York City bus and subway system shouldn’t be one of the places for this balancing act to occur. The system is well known for connecting people from all over the city to one another. While that’s great, that also means it’s connecting our germs! This virus is not like the flu for many reasons.
First, it’s a novel coronavirus, meaning it’s new. So nobody has any kind of immunity to it and there isn’t even a vaccine for it yet. Second, it has a death rate 10 times higher than the flu! Third, it is much more contagious than the flu.
According to several epidemiological studies, we can expect the rate of spread of the coronavirus to double every six days. Check out the story. We don’t even know if this strain of the virus is going to die out when the warmer temperatures arrive, as does the flu.
While the worst symptoms and effects are happening to mostly the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, even those of us who are young and healthy probably know and love people in those categories. My mom is 68 years old. I haven’t seen her in months and now I’m afraid to visit for a while because I might have the virus before exhibiting any symptoms. While I would probably be able to fight off the virus if I catch it, I’m not too sure about her. This isn’t just about ourselves, it’s also about our loved ones.
Many people will read this article and say “oh he’s a transit worker, he just wants time off work.” If that was true, and if the medical professionals are right about this and we don’t heed the lessons learned from Italy, we’re probably looking at a much longer shutdown of the subway system if we wait, than if we do it now.
However if we bite the bullet and begin a very aggressive social distancing campaign, we can save a lot of pain, suffering, and even some death.