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That MIT Study About the Subway Causing COVID Spread is Crap

An MIT Study claiming that NYC’s subway system is a major reason why the city has become the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic is under fire. This article in StreetsBlog by Alon Levy attacks it from many different angles, including:

  • Arguing other cities with subway systems aren’t seeing the type of pandemic rise as NYC.
  • The paper’s core arguments come from misinterpreted and misrepresented data.
  • Even if the paper’s premise were correct, Manhattan’s infection data would undermine the argument.

But when it comes to hard evidence, the paper makes two quantitative claims. The first is in figure 3: Manhattan had both the least increase in infections in the 3/13-4/7 period, equivalent to a doubling period of 20 days whereas the other boroughs ranged between 9.5 and 14, and also the largest decrease in subway entries in the 3/2-16 period, 65 percent whereas the other boroughs ranged between 33 percent and 56 percent.

The second is a series of maps showing per capita infection levels by ZIP code, similar to the oneĀ here. The paper also overlays a partial subway map and asserts that the map shows that there is correlation of infection rates along specific subway routes, for example the 7, as people spread the disease along the line.

Neither is even remotely correct.

Read the article at its source: That MIT Study About the Subway Causing COVID Spread is Crap