Coronavirus

Eric Adams Says New York City's Density Justifies Subway Mask Mandate

"We should still have masks on the subway system. New York is unique. We are densely populated," said the mayor at a press conference today.

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The masks are coming off travelers everywhere following a Monday ruling from a federal district court judge in Florida voiding the Biden administration's requirement that riders on planes, trains, buses, and rideshare vehicles cover their faces.

The crew on one JetBlue flight reportedly announced an end to the mandate inflight. Most other airlines, from American to United, dropped the requirement in a less dramatic fashion. The Transportation Security Administration said it wouldn't enforce the rule anymore either in light of the ruling.

Travelers within America's largest city won't be breathing any easier, however.  The state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)—which runs bus and train service in the wider New York City area—has said that its mask mandate will remain firmly in place. New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission has said riders of cabs, Ubers, and Lyfts will still have to mask up, reports The New York Times.

All of this has been met with approval from the city's mayor, Eric Adams, who said today that continued masking was necessary given an uptick in cases and New York City's unique levels of urban density.

"We should still have masks on the subway system. New York is unique. We are densely populated," said Adams at a press conference today.

The idea that dense New York City was particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 was an early, oft-repeated idea at the onset of the pandemic when the Big Apple was slammed with the nation's first major outbreak.

Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) tweeted in March 2020 that "there is a density level in NYC that is destructive. It has to stop and it has to stop now. NYC must develop an immediate plan to reduce density." The Los Angeles Times ran a smug op-ed touting the prophylactic benefits of the city's sprawl a few weeks later.

This idea wasn't totally unreasonable, but it didn't quite fit the facts of the early pandemic. Lower-density suburbs of New York City like Nassau and Westchester County were the first to experience serious outbreaks. Manhattan, by contrast, weathered the early pandemic slightly better.

Nolan Gray, sifting through the evidence in City Journal a year later, found remarkably little support for the idea that density—that is, more people living within a given square mile—was the problem. By contrast, there's been ample evidence that housing overcrowding—more people living within the same housing unit—did aid the spread of COVID-19.

It was a similar story with the New York subway system in particular. One early study from April 2020 claimed that outbreaks were concentrated along subway lines and that case growth slowed most quickly in areas where transit ridership also fell quickest.

But closer parsing of the data again revealed almost no connection between actual levels of transit ridership and COVID-19 infections.

As the pandemic wore on, the appearance of serious COVID-19 outbreaks everywhere from sprawling Los Angeles to rural South Dakota provided more evidence still that density per se didn't make your city uniquely dangerous.

Citing New York's density as a reason to keep masking requirements on the subway around, as Adams did, seems particularly outdated. It's also kind of silly in light of the fact that every other environment in New York City doesn't require masks.

People don't ride the subway for the hell of it. They ride it to get somewhere, with that somewhere often being a maskless office, maskless bar, or maskless private residence. Requiring face coverings during one's brief time en route from one of those locations to another isn't adding much protection from infection.

These mandates are however a hassle for riders who have to comply with them and transit agencies themselves who have to enforce them. The American Public Transportation Association has been urging the Biden administration to drop its mask mandate for transportation for months now, citing the costs of enforcement.

In light of that, Adams' defense of mandatory masking on subways seems more reactionary than anything else.

NEXT: CDC Removes All Countries From COVID-19 'Do Not Travel' List

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  1. Is Adams worse than DeBlasio or Dinkins yet?

    1. Am I supposed to care what Newyawkahs have done to themselves this time?

    2. Big shoes to fill.

  2. Be careful who you vote for.

    1. Adams or Sliwa? So a racist commie or a racist fascist and the Red Angel Dragnet.

      ...Not even 5 enforcement agencies can save their own, let alone the people...

  3. The Devine right of progressives?

    1. My bad I read that as destiny. Stupid 14 hour days

    2. The Divine Right of Queens.

  4. Citing New York's density as a reason to keep masking requirements on the subway around, as Adams did, seems particularly outdated. It's also kind of silly in light of the fact that every other environment in New York City doesn't require masks.

    But ONLY because now the rest of New York isn't requiring masks. The previous requirements of masks everywhere, always and forever will pass without comment.

    1. Localized science.

      1. Underground tubes are special.

  5. People don't ride the subway for the hell of it. They ride it to get somewhere, with that somewhere often being a maskless office, maskless bar, or maskless private residence. Requiring face coverings during one's brief time en route from one of those locations to another isn't adding much protection from infection.

    Britishguy makes a good point here. Adams needs to mandate masking everywhere again! While eating! In your own home! Completely alone, yet still masked. After all, that density is endemic to the city. And the mayor definitely embodies density.

    1. Ever ride the subway perl? You are in very close - touching - proximity and it is nothing like being in an office or at home.

      Is this a difficult concept for most of you?

      1. Mandatory bullet proof vests in the subway would make more sense than old tee shirts strapped on your face.

      2. People catch stuff from other people. That's how life is. Is this a difficult concept for you? At some point people need to start treating this virus (or family of viruses) like all the other ones because it isn't going away. Get over this idea that people need to do whatever they can to avoid this one particular infection.

  6. While I agree that New Yorkers are dense, I fail to see how masks that don't work anywhere, magically do work in a subway, and only in a subway.

    1. As I said in a different article, what if masks worked? Like, what if everyone was properly wearing N95 on the subway all the time, and that reduced viral transmission in that environment.

      So... what?

      What's the end goal of slightly reducing transmission of covid at this moment? Precisely, what is he hoping to accomplish?

      Any actual journalist worth their salt at a press conference would be asking this question and following up until it was adequately answered.

      1. Yes...this was the silliness of the Vaccination maxis too. I can accept that the vaccine might slow down the rate of spread, by reducing symptoms (that spread the disease) and making people less likely to catch it. But so what? Unless it can reduce the spread to less than R=1, it is still going to continue spreading until everyone gets it.

        We have seen that our hospitals can handle the surges. We have seen that the vaccines cannot stop the spread. Whether or not it slows things a little makes no meaningful difference in the long run.

  7. If New Yorkers put up with this shit, then yes, they ARE that dense between the ears and Adams is right. If they string him up to the nearest lightpole then they're not.

    1. Don’t worry-they will fall in line. Most NYers probably haven’t even taken off their masks yet.

  8. "NYC must develop an immediate plan to reduce density."

    Well, defunding the police is a good start.

    1. Or driving everyone out works too.

      1. Except Snake Pilskin

        1. I though Snake was dead.

          1. I heard he was dead.

  9. Can't keep your voter base frightened and on the reservation without visual, participatory reminders.

    1. China! Transgender teachers! Black people teaching CRT! Immigrants!

      Boo!

      1. Covid! No masks! Free speech! People with opinions that aren’t like yours! Republicans!

        1. You forgot Ukraine! The J/6 Insurrection! No abortion = Handmaids Tale! Death from the Rona! More cases! The sub-sub variants! Cases. Again! The unvaxxed! The vaxxed getting the Rona! Jared Kushner and the Saudis! Elon Musk!

          I'm sure I missed a few more.

  10. "NYC must develop an immediate plan to reduce density."

    Oh, that's easy enough. Forcibly sterilize all progressives. This generation of imbeciles is enough.

    1. Better still, address global climate warming change by prohibiting progressives from exhaling the deadly CO2. As soon as all the bodies decompose, the crisis will be effectively over, because no one will whine about it anymore.

  11. I agree: NYC’s denseness justifies a subway mask mandate.

    1. like on all the sandwiches being made?

  12. At the beginning of COVID when NYC was getting hammered, I told my urban planner wife that this would be the end of people wanting to live in large, dense cities. She didn’t want to hear it, but now it looks like Mayor Adams is making the same point.

    1. Is she learning to code?
      Because I know a web site that needs an edit function.

  13. In my opinion NYC's dense nature justifies a subway mask mandate.
    cookie clicker unblocked

  14. Whoever wrote this is an idiot. Density is not the issue on subways; OVERCROWDING causes the spread of the disease. You can have low density housing overall, but if people in low density areas e.g. still have to overcrowd and share the same e.g. bedroom then rates go up. It's plainly stated in the link Reason provides, '.....Unlike with density, the infection risk associated with overcrowding is unambiguous. One early analysis conducted by ProPublica Illinois associated overcrowding with much higher infection rates in Chicago, a connection absent with density. A similar study of London found a tight link between overcrowding and death rates...' While's it's too bad the Mayor used the term 'density' instead of overcrowding in Subways, that's no excuse to mislead the public with this drivel.

    1. Talk about dense.

    2. So, genius, what's the difference between overcrowding and density? And, using ProPublica as a source is risible, their biases are as pronounced as yours.

    3. The mayor spews drivel and you blame the writer for reporting it?

  15. Here's reason coming to complain about the most trivial of things. Something that NYC clearly wants as they elected these people.

    Why not write about the stupid shit that bumfuck Alabama does for a change? I mean, it doesn't affect you either but at least you could bitch about something else for a change.

    1. Something that NYC clearly wants as they elected these people.

      Yeah, that's not how it works.

  16. NYC probably also has the most natural immunity of anywhere.

  17. Coulda sworn the ruling was ONLY about FEDGOV making the mandate on travel conveyances, nationwide.
    That means the local NYC health authority could make it mandatory to wear a mask in the subway and it would not violate the federal judge's ruling.
    In fact, it should always have been up to the local health authorities as to whether masks, or anything else health-related, is needed.
    It is FEDGOV's overreach that is contrary to the Constitution and federal laws that was the brilliant judge's target.

  18. Adams is an idiot, pure and simple.

  19. the homeless camps and villages are FAR more dense than building dwellers in big cities. At least there one can close the door and nore or less separate from others. But for the camps, there IS no way of isolating equivalent to a home. Even a Noo Yawk tenement flat.

  20. By density of MYC, is he referring to skull thickness, or the IQs of those dumb enough to live in that armpit?

  21. There is only one thing that would make a mask mandate make sense and that would be if they worked.
    They do not, so no mask mandate makes sense.

  22. Avoiding an airborne infection carried by aerosol droplets is a matter of probabilities. If you are in a poorly ventilated space breathing air someone else has recently exhaled then a mask which stops some of the droplets improves your odds of staying healthy. Mandates just protect stupid people. Smart people will improve their odds when the air is doubtful.

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