New York City has been on lockdown since March 23, a span of over five weeks. During that time, the city has taken a number of increasingly harsh measures to ensure that its population maintains social distancing, even encouraging residents to snitch on one another if they are caught in groups of larger than 10. Churches and synagogues have been subjected to increased scrutiny and even public criticism from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
One major sector of the city, however, has been allowed to continue to run in spite of the fact that it, of necessity, places people within six feet of each other: the New York City subway system.
Over two weeks ago, a study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claimed that New York City's subways and MTA buses were a "major disseminator" of the coronavirus, and even went so far as to say, "New York City's multitentacled subway system was a major disseminator — if not the principal transmission vehicle — of coronavirus infection during the initial takeoff of the massive epidemic."
Still, rather than take measures to shut down access to the subway system or otherwise ensure that it does not function as an obvious transmission hotspot for COVID-19, New York City has actually allowed the subway system to degenerate into a shantytown for the homeless during the coronavirus crisis.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) finally addressed the situation after a video taken by an MTA worker showed the deplorable sanitation conditions on the NYC subway, calling the situation "disrespectful" to essential MTA workers.
According to the New York Post, de Blasio "relented to days of pressure" on Tuesday and "announced plans to flood end-of-line-stations with cops and outreach workers every night."
The MTA also announced that it was banning shopping carts and would no longer allow riders to spend more than one hour on platforms.
On Wednesday, Cuomo finally called for action that might have been an obvious ask several weeks ago: cleaning subway cars every night.
During his Wednesday news conference, Gov. Cuomo stated that he wanted the MTA to present him a plan for nightly cleanings by the next day.
"Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before," Cuomo said. "... Letting them endanger their own life and endanger the lives of others is not helping anyone."
When asked whether the state government would pay for the tests, Cuomo responded with something that might be considered an affirmative.
"It's realistic. It's an essential," he said. "How realistic is it? What's the alternative?"