I’ve had a seasonal pollen allergy for as long as I can remember. Coughing, sneezing and antihistamines were cornerstones of my childhood. However, anytime I cough now, I usually worry that the people around me think I have COVID-19. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve felt this way over the past two years. There’s now a new WHO-deemed health emergency with visible symptoms, and people are starting to get jumpy on public transportation.
Yesterday afternoon, a passenger on a MARTA rapid transit train in Atlanta was having an allergic reaction and joked that they had monkeypox. Another passenger overheard and called the transit authority’s police department. The train was stopped and evacuated at the next station on the line in East Point, a suburb southwest of the city. The passengers were transferred onto another train, while the now-empty train was taken back to a yard to be cleaned and disinfected. Paramedics checked the reportedly infected passenger to confirm they did not have monkeypox.
MARTA stated in a release:
“While this incident was a misunderstanding, MARTA continues to take the health and safety of our customers and employees seriously. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, monkeypox is spread through skin-to-skin or other close contact and the chances of transmission in a public setting are low. Unlike COVID, it is not transmissible through the air but we encourage customers to continue wearing masks for their comfort. Frequent handwashing also remains an effective way to reduce the transmission of most illnesses. Additionally, MARTA will continue the routine cleaning and disinfection of all vehicles implemented during COVID and any in-service cleaning necessitated by a sick patron.”
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox can spread through close contact, such as skin-to-skin contact or contact with objects touched by someone infected with monkeypox. While it is good that many are being far more vigilant towards monkeypox than initially with coronavirus, it can lead to misunderstandings like this.