“I think I was more worried to go back out in July than I was before the lockdown,” said Ms. Coyoc. “After being home and looking at the news on a daily basis and seeing so many deaths, that’s got me scared.”
Since then both women say their concerns about commuting have been allayed after a scientific consensus emerged that the risk of coronavirus transmission on the subway was not as high as many assumed at the start of the pandemic, as long as riders wear masks and crowding remains minimal.
But with coronavirus cases climbing yet again in New York, threatening another shutdown, many riders have renewed concerns about their safety on trains, where they have less control over their surroundings and the safety precautions others are taking.
“At work we are distanced, I’m never really close to anyone,” said Walter Fernandez, 26, who works as a cleaner in an office building in Brooklyn and was sent home at the height of the pandemic. “But here all of the seats are full, you’re right up against everyone and people aren’t always wearing masks.”
Earlier this summer he was called back to work, but decided against returning for fear of bringing the virus home to his mother, who lives with him in Woodhaven. But in August, with cases falling in the city, she returned to her work as a housekeeper and he returned to the office he cleans.
As cases creep up, so has Mr. Fernandez’s anxiety. “I don’t even want to think about it,” he said.
Ten minutes down the J line, Sayda Ighmor, 35, sat on a wooden bench at 111th Street Station on her way to work as a home health aide. Every morning Ms. Ighmor takes the train five stops and then gets on the Q54 bus to get to work, which is the most nerve-racking part of her day.
“It’s so crowded on the buses — even more than the train — and some people still don’t wear masks,” she said.