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Second RTC bus driver tests positive for COVID-19

Corovavirus and Public Transit via MGN. Credit: Elvert Barnes / CC BY-SA 2.0 Credit: Pixabay
Corovavirus and Public Transit via MGN. Credit: Elvert Barnes / CC BY-SA 2.0 Credit: Pixabay(Elvert Barnes and Pixabay)
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 8:04 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -The Regional Transportation Commission on Thursday announced a second driver has tested positive for COVID-19, the day after announcing the first.

The second driver has not been at work since July 14, the RTC said.

“The driver did not have any close-contact interactions with passengers within the guidelines of 15 minutes or more and less than six feet,” the RTC said in a statement. “All drivers are required to wear masks or face coverings when driving and there is a plastic barrier shield between drivers and passengers.”

The union for RTC bus drivers said the driver is confident he contracted COVID-19 while on the job.

Teamsters Union Local 533 also charged drivers risk firing if they refuse to allow a passenger on the bus who is not wearing a face covering.

“Before the union raised the issue in the media, masks were only available for passengers during office hours at the downtown Reno and Sparks bus stations,” Union President Gary Watson said in a statement. “After we complained, they announced ‘mask dispensers’ on all vehicles and installed shower curtains to protect drivers, which one rider spit on.”

The RTC had this response to the Teamster comments;

“All RTC transit properties and transit vehicles have vested federal interest, triennial federal oversight, and require adherence to federal mandates and regulations. RTC and its contractors can not deny transit boardings to individuals. Furthermore, we cannot ask individuals what their medical condition is for privacy reasons. The Governor’s face coverings directive stipulates exceptions for Individuals whose medical condition prevents them from safely wearing a face mask, homeless individuals, and children under 9 years old. Additionally, Keolis and RTC do not want to create potential conflicts between transit drivers and transit riders.”

The RTC said the health and safety of transit riders and workers is a top priority. It said the RTC and the contractors have followed Gov. Steve Sisolak’s mask directive.

“The RTC will continue to monitor and implement safety protocols and recommendations as directed by Governor Sisolak, public health authorities, and local leaders to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees, our transit and construction contractors, our customers and our community,” the RTC said in a statement.

Keolis contracts with the RTC to run the transit service.

“The one thing the general public and Keolis employees can have assurance on is that we, at Keolis, are not in the business of being complacent and there has never been a more critical time to be vigilant about our collective safekeeping,” Keolis said in the statement from the RTC.

Keolis listed these improvements:

Employee Wellbeing

  • All employees were granted additional paid leave for COVID-related situations. This includes taking care of children or a family member, self-quarantining, or any other issue.
  • Masks are required for all employees; hand sanitizer and gloves have been provided to them as well. Sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are available on all RIDE vehicles.
  • Temperature checks are being done on a voluntary basis within the employee group with the assistance of a contracted medical assistant on-site.
  • Seats on the bus near the operators have been appropriately marked in order to facilitate social distancing.
  • We instituted a screen between our operators, the fare box, and the general public as an initial measure while we explore optimal solutions for a hard shell-type solution.

Facility Cleaning and Disinfection

  • The facility and depot are cleaned and disinfected nightly with a new EPA-approved solution specifically manufactured to kill the coronavirus.
  • All traffic areas throughout the facility are cleaned routinely through the procurement of outside vendor support exclusively focused on COVID-19.
  • Social-distancing markers are placed on the floor in the hallways, notification of the same is posted on walls, and, the Governor’s directive is in full enforcement inside all facilities operated by Keolis
  • Regimented daily cleaning has been regularly instituted since COVID-19, in the event of a positive employee case within the facility or on RIDE vehicles.

Vehicle sanitization and cleaning

  • Vehicles are rotated out of service periodically through the course of the day and wiped down.
  • Any vehicle that has a potential positive case or an employee or rider exhibiting symptoms is immediately removed from service and quarantined. After two days, the vehicle is fully sanitized before returning to service.
  • A specialized fogger is in nightly use to provide a secondary disinfectant barrier for buses utilized throughout the day.

Community involvement

  • As Keolis has opened multiple networks around the world, we are assisting the RTC with best practices on how to ensure the safety of our community.
  • Free masks are available to the general public on all buses and at major hubs (4TH STREET STATION and CENTENNIAL PLAZA).
  • Keolis, in partnership with the RTC, provides mask dispenser units on buses subsequently allowing customers to self-dispense free masks.
  • Keolis has also installed hand-sanitization units mounted and placed on each bus.

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