Top MTA officials are echoing the message of Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio: If you're feeling sick or have a suppressed immune system, avoid taking public transportation.
"I want to assure the public that the subways remain safe. If you can get around without riding the subway, do it,” said Pat Foye, Chairman, MTA.
The shift in messaging comes as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 grows and New York rises to the top of the list with the most number of patients of the virus in the country.
But many straphangers say the ask to avoid the subway is a little farfetched.
"I'll try not to touch anything, I'll you know try to keep my distance but I gotta take the subway," said one straphanger.
"I don't really see how that is entirely possible with the way we just have to live our lives,” said another.
MTA brass is asking those who can work from home to do so, or bike and even walk if you can.
If mass transit is a must, the MTA suggests riding before or after peak hours, and skipping over crowded trains.
"If there is less crowding as the governor and the mayor have advised, that in the short term is good thing because it will reduce the risk to the public," said Foye.
Last week the agency announced it would start disinfecting its entire fleet every 72 hours and wiping down frequently touched surfaces daily.
But some riders are still anxious.
"I am not touching anything, trying to stay away from everything,” said a third straphanger.
MTA officials did say they noticed some lighter crowds during their own commutes but do not have enough data to determine if ridership has declined over recent weeks.
Interim transit president Sarah Feinberg said she’d be open to running more service to thin out crowds but ultimately the system is largely at capacity.
"If they are standing on a platform and a crowded train comes through, should they get on that car? Or should they wait? Our advice would be to use your common sense in that moment,” said Sarah Feinberg, Interim President, NYC Transit.
The MTA says it has expanded its coronavirus war-room to operate 24-7 to collect information from health officials and disseminate it as soon as possible.