Spread the word, not the virus: cover your mouth while you ride mass transit. That’s the message the MTA and union representing subway and bus workers wants to get out to New Yorkers still taking mass transit.
Transit and union officials want passengers to wear masks, or at least cover their mouths with bandanas and scarves, while they commute to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The union says government officials should make it mandatory.
"This is a common-sense move that will prevent the spread of the virus and could ease the concerns of both transit workers and riders," Tony Utano, the president of the TWU Local 100, said in a statement.
The MTA, meanwhile, is embracing masks as a way to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Transit officials had discouraged workers from wearing masks, unless it was part of their regular safety gear, citing guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control downplaying the effectiveness of healthy people wearing masks.
But MTA leadership is now abandoning the CDC guidance, and has started to hand out masks to workers - 175,000 of them since last week.
Now, the MTA wants riders to do the same.
"We are also recommending that the essential workers who continue to ride with us during the pandemic wear face coverings - we all have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop the spread," MTA chairman Pat Foye said in a statement.