Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
Keeping Those Pig Flu Germs Off Your Face
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I finally saw my first mask-wearing subway riders today - one guy, and a couple seats away, the woman you see here, in this highly atmospheric and stylized photo. That was in the morning. This afternoon, I saw another woman walk out of a station with a mask on. That makes a grand total of three New Yorkers with masks on, which, if you think about it, isn't a whole lot, given the pandemic-level attention the swine flu has received.
Should more New Yorkers be wearing masks right now?
I put the question to a few people on the street. An actor I spoke to, Jeremy Beiler, said YES, they should be, and that he's not so comfortable riding the subway because it's such a 'petri dish' and no one's wearing masks.
'I haven't seen anyone with masks on, but it seems brazenly American to not wear masks,' he said.
But another guy I interviewed, a corporate chef named Mike Passotti, thinks the idea of wearing masks is silly, and would only reflect the media's swine flu hype.
'The media needs something to put on the front page,' he said. 'They need to scare us more. That's what I get out of it.'
So, what's your take? Are we going to see more New Yorkers wearing masks in the coming days, as more pharmacies replenish their stock (I checked a couple stores, and they ran out days ago)? Or are we so fashion-conscious in this city that we need people to actually die of the swine flu before we take that step?