Worried about catching coronavirus on the subway? This is what experts say

Transit systems across the country, including New York's MTA, are ramping up daily cleaning efforts, but that doesn't mean everyone feels safe taking public transit during the coronavirus outbreak. However, before you pick up your phone and arrange a carpool instead of taking the subway, there are a few facts you should keep in mind. While both options carry risks, experts say ridesharing may be a better option for people who are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus or have pre-existing conditions.

Should you stop riding the subway because of coronavirus?

In a series of coronavirus-related tweets, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio advised taking extra caution when riding the subway. "If the stopped train is too crowded, transfer to another car or wait for the next car," he wrote on Twitter. " If you can, bike or walk to work." He also suggested that if If your job allows, avoid rush hours and avoid riding the subway entirely if you may be infected with the coronavirus or if you have a pre-existing condition that suppresses your immune system.

This advice is not universally applicable, considering the fact that many people rely entirely on the subway. Dr. John Ioannidis, professor of medicine, epidemiology and population health at Stanford University, said you don't have to worry if subway is your only option right now. "The risk to public transportation or ride-sharing is very low," he tells Bustle. "We have no evidence that we would prioritize one over the other." Instead, Ioannidis suggested the public shift its focus to "telling people who feel sick to stay home," rather than disrupting people's daily commutes.

Separately, Dr. Terry Gordon, a professor of environmental medicine at NYU School of Medicine, tells Bustle that "riding the subway may carry a greater risk of encountering someone with coronavirus [than riding a shared car]." But he acknowledges that even so, He still plans to use public transportation during the coronavirus outbreak.

Is ridesharing safer during the coronavirus outbreak?

On March 6, the New York Times reported that an Uber driver in Queens, New York, was infected with the new coronavirus. Later, in preparation for future cases, both Uber and Lyft announced they would provide two weeks of paid sick leave to drivers who were quarantined or infected with the virus. They hope this will encourage drivers to take responsibility for their own health and that of their passengers.

In addition, on March 17, Uber and Lyft announced that they would temporarily suspend "ridesharing" and ride-sharing services in the United States and Canada due to the new coronavirus epidemic. While you can still book personal rides with both companies, Uber now has in-app notifications urging people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

When it comes to taxis, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) recommends that drivers keep their windows open during rides to help with air circulation and, if possible, disinfect their vehicles at least once a day and after each passenger Carry out disinfection. This is more frequent deep cleaning than subways, commuter trains, buses and stations.

Dr. Dena Grayson, an expert on Ebola and viral pandemics, tells Bustle that ridesharing may be a better option for older adults and people with chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes because of these cleaning policies. While there's always a chance you could catch coronavirus from a taxi or rideshare, she said they're "less risky than a crowded subway or bus."

Taking into account all the expert opinions, walking, biking, or taking a shared car with a broken window seems to be the safest option to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus. It's easier to rely on car services to clean between passengers than on subways or buses. Fewer people means less exposure.

expert :

Dr. John Ioannidis, MD, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Population Health, Stanford University

Dr. Dena Grayson, MD, PhD, Ebola and viral pandemic expert

Dr. Terry Gordon, Professor of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine

If you think you have symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, shortness of breath and cough, call your doctor before getting tested. If you are concerned about the spread of the virus in your community, visit the CDC for the latest information and resources, or to seek mental health support. You can find all of Bustle's coronavirus coverage here.