You may be practicing social distancing, but because you live in the big city there are moments when you might need to take public transport. The question you’re probably asking yourself is whether taking trains, buses, or cabs is safe in the age of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
It may be good to know that operators are making sure you can travel safely. New York’s MTA will scale up efforts to ensure workers disinfect stations twice a day (in the morning and evening) by St Patrick’s Day. All of its trains including the subway, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North cars are currently being disinfected every 72 hours (via ABC). Similar efforts to keep facilities disinfected are reported in San Francisco (via San Francisco Examiner); and Washington DC (via The Washington Post).
But there are a few tips to try and ensure you remain safe and healthy when you take different forms of public transit.
Some experts say you are better off keeping your phone stored when you are on public transport, and while this may be a difficult habit to break, New York-based professor of infectious diseases Amira Roess says you can place your phone in a location that is different from where you usually place it, so you are reminded of why your phone might be in that different place. Also, clean your phone regularly, and wash your hands properly after you handle your phone (via Business Insider).
Try not to touch anything while you are on public transport
If you take the train, now will be a good time to work on your core and balance. Try not to touch any handrails, as anyone who might have the COVID-19 coronavirus might have left viral traces for the next unsuspecting passenger. Try your best to practice social distancing and keep three to six feet away from other passengers, especially anyone who might have coughed. And if despite your best efforts you need to grab onto something use a tissue which you can discard, try to keep the other hand clean, and wash both hands properly as soon as you can (via The Guardian).
Hand sanitizer is critical when you take public transport. “If you don’t have access to water or soap right away, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer,” infectious disease specialist Avisheh Forouzesh told Business Insider. “That’s one thing that’s easy and everyone can do.” And if the thought of getting on a bus or train turns your stomach, try and travel when public transport is less crowded.
But if you really aren’t in love with the idea of public transport and if its feasible, you may want to try biking or walking (as the The New York Times says some New York commuters have started to do) — and you could end up getting more fit as an unintended positive consequence.
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