Virus and the City: Awful Headlines

I woke up feeling okay, and then I read the headlines like, “Coronavirus Was Slow to Spread to Rural America. Not Anymore.” The worst was this one: “41 Transit Workers Dead: Crisis Takes Staggering Toll on Subways.” I guess in the scheme of things 41 is not such a big number, but it feels like a huge number to me. “More “than 6,000 more have fallen sick or self-quarantined.” Normally I take the subways every day, and for the most part the people who work for the MTA are so nice. I can’t count the times I’ve gone flying for the subway doors as they close and then they miraculously open again. That’s because some conductor took pity on me! Thank you.

I’m dying to go back to work (I love working at the ASPCA’s hospital, helping to save animals) but when I think of it the only part that scares me is the subway. It just seems like it would be one of the hardest places to be in and also keep yourself from being infected. I would only have to face this twice a day. Workers would be there for an entire shift. I’d walk if it wasn’t so insanely far away from where I live (it’s a five mile walk there).

I’m so sorry for your losses MTA. Watch this video to be utterly charmed by subway workers (and the people who made this). We have lost 41 of them. It’s horrible.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

2 thoughts on “Virus and the City: Awful Headlines

  1. 41 is certainly a significant number, particularly when it represents people doing their jobs and getting sick from doing it.

    One of the best memories of my life is using the subway system frequently during my two trips to NYC. Couldn’t get over the system and how it works and how many people it must take to make it work. Thank you for highlighting their not very glamorous but very important work. I’ve seen the video before of the conductors pointing to the striped strip, and I just love that. Loved the idea to hold up other funny signs for them, but also love the simplicity of the paying attention check. Very low tech, very effective.

  2. I’m amazed the MTA employees are still coming to work in significant numbers. I guess they have no choice, they need to work, but I fear for them.

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