As the city of NY plans to reopen in the coming months, officials are dusting off the playbook of the 1918 flu pandemic, when Businesses were ordered to start their work days in staggered times to prevent the subway from becoming a vector of disease.
The idea, then and now, is to distribute passengers throughout the day to avoid the kind of overcrowding that health experts fear could turn the subway into a breeding ground for the new coronavirus that has killed more than 20,000 people in the city.
Talks about staggered hours and days for offices are still at an early stage, he told Reuters a member of the state reopening panel NY. Coordination could be complex in a city of 220,000 companies, most of them small.
But Patrick Foye, president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been presenting the case to business leaders, noting that it sees it as key to restoring confidence in the tangled network of 665 miles of track that transported 5.5 million people one day. before closing in March. Foye he said in a May 6 call organized by the Association for a Better New York that he projects staggered hours and days of work as “part of the response” to congestion, citing the 1918 response.
Kathryn Wylde, president of the Association for the City of New York and member of the Governor’s reopening committee Andrew CuomoHe said companies would support coordinated start times. “It is the expectation of employers that something like this will have to be resolved if they want their people to get back on the trains.“, said.
During the 1918 pandemic, New York City Health Commissioner Royal Copeland scaled start and end times for most companies in 15-minute increments. While it is unclear what impact the move had, at NY It finally fared better than other cities: It had a death rate of 4.7 per 1,000 residents, much lower than Philadelphia at 7.3.
It is unlikely that the city of NY reopen significantly until fall. Even then, workers will likely return in phases, if at all. Employees of tech companies Twitter Inc and Square Inc, for example, have been given the option to continue working at home.
“As we try to reopen the economy, the use of buildings is obviously going to change. We should be talking about implementing tiered shifts“, said Kyle bragg, president of the 32BJ SEIU service workers union.
Last month, the economist and doctor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Jeffrey Harris published an article titled “Subways Sowed the Massive Coronavirus Epidemic in New York City”Which pointed to a parallelism between the riders’ patterns and the spread of the virus in early March.
But some officials have said they are not convinced that the subway is the main cause. One of the skeptics is Cuomo, who has cited data showing workers in transit with below-average infection rates and a hospital survey indicating that the majority of patients had not used public transportation.
Sarah Kaufman, associate director of the Rudin Center of New York University Transportation (NYU) said the idea that subways spread the virus was inaccurate. “It was a failure to get people to stay home quickly“
Still, transit and health experts say the MTA must go beyond disinfecting cars at night, the masks mandate, and other steps already taken. A common proposal is the most frequent trains, especially on the lines where people meet shoulder to shoulder during peak hours. “That’s the only way to help with social distancing, so you can clear platforms quickly and have fewer passengers on trains.“, said Elodie Ghedin, a former professor of global public health at the New york university which is now in the National Inst.
That would require money that the MTA does not have. He received $ 3.9 billion in federal emergency funds, but is asking for $ 3.9 billion more to make up for the 93 percent drop in subway revenue.
For now, the companies are making their own plans. Marsh & McLennan Cos, an insurance and risk management group based in ManhattanHe said he instructed office leaders to make plans for staggered teams in the office and to determine if travelers should travel during off-peak hours.
Authorities were looking for the best way to use the technology, including applications that could direct travelers to use trains or subways at certain times based on capacity, he said. Wylde, a tool that did not exist in 1918.