NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2020/04/07: A crowded subway train heading towards Queens during the coronavirus outbreak. According to the information given by the Governor Andrew Cuomo it would appear that New York state has begun to flatten the curve with a decrease in hospitalizations and new infections of Coronavirus (Covid-19). (Photo by Braulio Jatar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Braulio Jatar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the novel coronavirus’ ability to live up to three days on plastic and steel surfaces is a concern for the city’s public transport buses and trains. 

The lifespan of the virus poses a health threat to the city’s public transportation workers and passengers alike as essential employees rely on the buses and trains despite the “pause” order. 

According to researchers live coronavirus particles can survive anywhere from three hours to seven days on surfaces, depending on the material.

The MTA has been hit hard in the last two months as the agency reportedly lost 84 employees to the virus and passenger counts dropped 93% since the beginning of the outbreak.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo emphasized the lifespan of the novel coronavirus in the air and on surfaces while describing the challenges facing the city’s massive public transport system during the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

“The virus can live up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces and stainless-steel surfaces,” Cuomo said in a press conference Friday. “Just think about this from a transit point of view or from your car point of view. It can live on a pole in a bus or on a seat in a bus for up to 72 hours.”

Cuomo’s statements about the virus’ lifespan, sources for which the governor hadn’t referenced, echoed reports that live coronavirus particles, which typically spread via droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes, can survive for anywhere from three hours to seven days on surfaces, depending on the material —  and are particularly significant for commonly touched surfaces on like those on the city’s highly trafficked trains and buses, infecting passengers and workers alike.

In addition to surfaces, Cuomo said the virus spreading through the air also remains a concern.

“When they were talking about droplets, I thought it was a droplet and then it falls, right? It’s a droplet that can hang in the air for three hours,” Cuomo said. “I don’t even know how that works.”

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Cuomo said information on the lifespan of the coronavirus was key for informing disinfectant measures for agencies like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and important for New Yorkers to remember ahead of the city and state’s eventual reopening. 

After the first reported case of the novel coronavirus in New York City, the MTA announced it would enlist employees to wipe down and sanitize stations, trains, and buses every 72 hours.

The virus has hit the MTA hard in the epicenter of the US outbreak. The agency reported that as of April 24, it had lost 84 employees to the virus as 3,352 employees have tested positive since the outbreak began, the New York Post reported.

The MTA’s ridership has also taken a hit as its passenger counts dropped 93% since the beginning of the outbreak as the city entered a “New York on Pause” order.

Cuomo also highlighted promising statistics like the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals in the state was down almost 25% since last week, though the state has at least 271,590 confirmed cases and 16,162 deaths. 

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