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People wearing masks wait on a subway platform at Grand Central in New York on Monday, June 14, 2021. Photo: Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority is ramping up enforcement of its mask requirement on public transit, saying that riders who refuse to wear a mask risk getting fined $50, the agency said Wednesday.

The big picture: The tighter enforcement of the mask mandate, effective Thursday, comes more than one year after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an order requiring all New York commuters to wear a mask or risk a $50 fine.

  • MTA's police department issued just 41 summonses to subway, bus and commuter railroad riders who flouted the mask mandate since the order was announced, per the New York Daily News.
  • Instead of issuing fines for commuters not wearing masks, MTA began a "blitz of mask distribution," with staff and police officers distributing tens of thousands of free masks to unmasked riders, per the press release.
  • More than 50,000 masks were distributed overall, including 25,000 in the two weeks since the blitz began on Sept. 7.

What they're saying: "In the coming weeks, officers will step up enforcement efforts on commuter rails and work with our partners at the NYPD for the subway and bus system," Joseph McGrann, acting chief of the MTA Police Department, said.

  • "The message is clear, wear a mask. Riders who are still not getting this message will now see the cost associated with that thinking."
  • "This next phase of our blitz will reinforce that wearing a mask is not optional. Vaccinated or not, you must wear a mask when traveling on public transit," said Patrick Warren, MTA chief safety officer.

Go deeper

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns — New cases down
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.