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New York City subway. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Most people have been avoiding public transit if they can, but a new report in The Atlantic says there's no evidence subways and buses are to blame for coronavirus outbreaks.

Why it matters: Public transportation is essential to the resumption of normal economic activity in our cities, but surveys show people would prefer to drive their own car than risk being cooped up on a subway or bus with strangers who might infect them with the virus.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling people it's better to avoid transit and ride alone to work, if possible.

It's all overblown, according to the article's authors, including Janette Sadik-Khan, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation.

  • Despite scary stories pegged to an MIT economist's report about New York's subway system, some of the biggest U.S. outbreaks have been in meat-packing plants and nursing homes, far away from public transit, they write.
  • Hard-hit cities like Milan, Tokyo or Seoul that have reopened their transit systems have not seen subsequent infection spikes.
  • Of note: In Asia, it's common for people to wear masks, which could help explain why Japan and Korea haven't seen new spikes.

Yes, but: There's still a lot we don't know about this virus, and it's too early to draw conclusions about how — and where — it spreads.

The bottom line: Until then, convincing Americans to get over their fears about public transit will be difficult.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  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.
Sep 26, 2020 - Health

U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases

Flags on the Washington National Mall on Sept. 22, each representing 1,000 people killed from the virus. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

The United States reported 55,054 new coronavirus cases on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: It was the highest single-day increase since August 14, when the country reported 64,350 new cases over a 24-hour span, and suggests that the U.S. has yet to contain the spread of the virus.

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."