Yes, Governor Cuomo, President Trump is doing a horrible job at leading us through this crisis and you are becoming the face of the response effort for the nation. It has become clear that the president’s main concern is the economic recovery rather than mitigating the effects of the health crisis.
He is simultaneously giving the American people false hope that this will all be over by Easter, while denying New York State the equipment, such as ventilators, masks, and gloves, that it needs to combat this crisis in the warlike manner which is necessary to defeat the virus. However, let’s be very clear on one thing. While President Trump is impeding the recovery of the crisis, he has nothing to do with the fact that New York State, and New York City in particular, have become a global epicenter of the pandemic with 5 percent of all cases worldwide being confirmed in the New York metropolitan area alone and nearly a third of the 50,000 cases nationwide (almost 15,000) were confirmed within the confines of the five boroughs!
So you can complain all you want that you don’t have the tools to fix the problem, but by not shutting down the New York City Subway and Bus system, you are the one who created this problem, Governor Cuomo. While I applaud your efforts at trying to help those already sick and trying to be prepared for those who will eventually get sick by increasing hospital capacity and demanding action from the feds, you are doing absolutely nothing to PREVENT the spread of the virus which would drastically reduce the amount of people getting sick in the first place.
Bloomberg News is reporting that according to White House Coronavirus Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx “ Riders touching metal surfaces in New York City subways may have accelerated the spread of the coronavirus in the region.” As a train operator and lifelong rider of the NYC subway system, I can tell you this is probably true. A lot of people are wearing masks, but almost nobody is wearing gloves.
While the MTA is sanitizing each train every 72 hours, the poles are being touched by thousands of people every day before they get the chance to be cleaned. It would be impossible to thoroughly clean each train every day, let alone after each trip, and even then the virus would still likely spread before the train got to the end of the line. There is no option left but to shut the system down.
Governor Cuomo recently stated that the order to keep all nonessential workers at home was “the most drastic steps we can take.” This is completely and utterly false and he knows it! First of all, the order on nonessential workers to stay at home is a joke. Yesterday on my 7 train I saw the same group of guys I always see at Court Square in their hard hats and construction gear. Do you mean to tell me building luxury condos in Long Island City is essential work???
People are using the fact that mass transit is open to justify not taking the order seriously. There is also no NYPD enforcement to verify that people are only going to essential jobs. We have shut down mass transit in the past, but only in extreme situations such as blizzards, hurricanes, and blackouts. It’s engrained in the New Yorker’s psyche that if Transit is running, it must be safe to go outside.
Not to mention, living in New York is extremely expensive so most people will take the risk and go to work so they can pay the rent next month and just hope that they don’t catch the virus. Using ballpark figures, the average daily ridership on the NYC Subway system is about 5.5 million people.
Yesterday NY1 reported a whopping 87% drop in ridership due to the coronavirus. That would mean roughly 715,000 riders per day. Doesn’t sound like a lot? That is almost the entire daily ridership of the Chicago “L”, which carries an estimated 728,000 riders per day and more than the daily ridership of the Washington Metro which clocks in at about 626,000 riders per day!
So yeah, we do run more trains than those cities so there is a little bit of social distancing being done (though still not at all during the rush hours), but none of that matters if everyone is touching the same poles on the trains and buses.
In Wuhan, China, the city where the coronavirus originated, officials shut down their similarly sized (3.6 million daily riders) subway system on January 23, 2020. Just last week it was confirmed for the first time since the outbreak that there were 0 new cases of coronavirus in the city of Wuhan. It took almost 2 months of a complete shutdown of not only their transit system, but their city, to achieve the same goal we’re trying to achieve through lackluster measures.
In stark comparison, in Italy, a country that didn’t take many social distancing measures (much like New York) was reporting record high death tolls in the hundreds per day! I can’t even fathom how long it will take us at this current rate to completely eliminate the coronavirus in New York City and how many lives will be lost in the time being. Yesterday Governor Cuomo told us that the number of cases is doubling every 3 days and this is even after his social distancing efforts were ordered.
The only thing that’s going to stop this virus now is a complete shut down of the city, including the subways and buses. Essential workers can get to their jobs by car or Uber, the way they do in blizzards, hurricanes, and blackouts.
The White House has now recommended that anyone who visited New York City recently should take the drastic measure of self-quarantining for 14 days, whether they have any symptoms of the virus or not. Thanks to our city’s world class reputation, we have many domestic and international visitors.
While normally a good thing, this could have grave consequences on a global scale if we don’t nip this thing in the bud right now. Governor Cuomo, you can literally save the world from much pain and death. Please do what is right and bring this city to a complete halt today.