WATCH: Police in Philadelphia Drag Passenger Off Bus for Not Wearing Face Mask

Posted: Apr 11, 2020 1:45 PM

Beginning on Thursday, bus riders in Philadelphia are required to wear masks in an effort to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. The city's transit authority, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), is enforcing the new requirement by physically removing passengers if necessary, as they did with one resistant passenger the first day the rule went into effect. 

As the government takes unprecedented steps to slow the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, the balance between mitigation efforts and civil liberties will be debated in the months and years to come.

Three SEPTA employees have died from COVID-19, and at least 81 have tested positive for the virus. Last week, SEPTA suspended on-board fair payments to promote social distancing between operators and passengers. SEPTA also implemented rear-door entry for passengers and limited the number of riders per bus and trolley.

Public health officials feared Philadelphia, the nation's sixth-largest city, would become the outbreak's next hot spot. But as of Friday, the city had a total of 5,793 reported cases of the coronavirus and 137 deaths. Philadelphia is expected to reach its peak in the upcoming week.