Staff Editorial

STAFF EDITORIAL: When Riding the CTA, Mask Up or Get Off

Alanna Demetrius | The PhoenixNot masking up is a danger to everyone — keep them on when riding public transit.

When choosing to ride the CTA, there are some common occurrences you have to get used to — the sound of someone blasting music out of a speaker, awkwardly sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers and attempting to maintain your balance while standing during rush hour, to name a few. 

With the onset of COVID-19 came a new public transit disturbance — maskless passengers. While listening to a stranger’s questionable music choices is a harmless trick of the trade, going maskless on public transit is a dangerous, possibly deadly, decision.

Riding the CTA is an easy and inexpensive way for many students to travel to fun places and events around the city, or even to commute to jobs or see family. For many city residents though, it’s a public service they need to use in order to get to jobs that pay their rent or put food on the table.

If you make the choice to go out to a bar, you are surrounded by people who are also voluntarily taking the risk to go out and potentially catch COVID-19. Taking the CTA, however, is a necessity for many people who don’t want to be subjected to additional COVID-19 risks.

As Loyola students, we have to remember as much as we’re trying to make Rogers Park — and Chicago — our home, for the time being we’re guests in this amazing city. 

The idea of thousands of students from across the country flocking to campus in the middle of the pandemic probably didn’t sound appealing to our longtime neighbors — especially if those same students won’t do the bare minimum by riding the CTA with a mask on. 

We wear masks to protect not only ourselves, but others. When you go maskless, you put everyone in the same space as you at risk. Wearing a mask is simple, easy and effective. There’s truly not a single reason to forego the act. 

The CTA extended its mask mandate until January 18, 2022, so foregoing a mask is not only irresponsible, but illegal. 

Enforcement is difficult for CTA employees, according to their website. That’s because everyday trains make 2,200 trips and busses make 18,000 trips. Additionally, the CTA said public transit workers being assaulted or attacked when asking riders to wear a mask is an unfortunate, but common, occurrence. Your train or bus driver is not there to babysit you — and as an adult, you should have the decency to mask-up because it’s right, not because you’ll get yelled at. 

It doesn’t matter if you want a cute picture with friends — keep it on. Riding the CTA without a mask may be the very act that kills someone else. More than 650,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and the daily average is an additional 2,000 deaths, according to a recent study published by the CDC.

While vaccinated people are protected and face less risk of hospitalization, breakthrough infections are real — nearly 18% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. between June 20 and July 17 occurred among vaccinated people, the CDC reported.

Vaccinated people can spread the virus. If you think going maskless is responsible because you’ve got two shots of Moderna, think again. The CTA is not your playground, and infecting others messes with their lives.

Our vaccinations are not the rainbow Mario powerup — we are not immune from harming ourselves or others. Next time you’re on the CTA, keep your mask on and enjoy the ride. It’s simple.

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