Packed Transit Car


The Subways Seeded the Massive Coronavirus Epidemic in New York City

Jeffrey E. Harris* Department of Economics Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA USA

Updated April 24, 2020 National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 27021, April 19, 2020 Social Science Research Network No. 3574455, April 13, 2020

How could the epidemic have spread so extensively in such a relatively small space and in just a few weeks? To address this question, we focus here on the city's pervasive, multipronged subway system. Based largely on observational data, we conclude that in all likelihood, the subway system was a major disseminator - if not the principal transmission vehicle - of coronavirus infection during the initial exponential takeoff of the epidemic during the first two weeks of March 2020.

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