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Reproduced from Metropolitan Council; Chart: Axios Visuals

Public transit use across the metro plummeted amid the pandemic, as remote work and fear of enclosed spaces kept people from boarding buses and trains.

By the numbers: Overall ridership dropped 53% in 2020, per new figures from the Metropolitan Council.

  • Light rail and the Northstar trains, both used by workers commuting downtown, saw some of the biggest declines.

The big picture: Cities across the nation are facing an "existential" crisis when it comes to bringing riders back to pre-pandemic levels.

Go deeper

Feb 24, 2021 - Health

Black churches become vaccine hubs

A woman arrives at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic outside the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in southeast D.C. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Black pastors have a new job on their plates during COVID-19: encouraging skeptical congregants to get vaccinated.

Why it matters: “There’s distrust in our community. We can’t ignore that,” Rev. James Coleman of D.C.'s All Nations Baptist told AP.

Feb 24, 2021 - Health

Moderna says vaccine for South Africa COVID-19 variant ready for testing

A doctor drawing the Moderna vaccine into syringes in Central Falls, Rhode Island, on Feb. 13. Photo: Joseph Prezioso

Vaccine producer Moderna announced Wednesday it is sending doses of a new vaccine designed to better protect against the coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa to the National Institutes of Health for a Phase 1 clinical trial.

Why it matters: The trial is a major step toward producing and distributing a vaccine specifically designed for the South Africa variant, which may spread faster and more easily than the original coronavirus strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.