GRTC bus driver tests positive for COVID-19

GRTC cautions riders that there may be “significant service disruptions or cancelations
Posted at 5:02 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 09:32:02-04

RICHMOND, Va. – A GRTC bus driver has tested positive for COVID-19, the company announced Wednesday.

The case is the first known case for a bus operator and the second known case for a GRTC employee.

GRTC officials say the driver has reported only mild symptoms so far and has not been in GRTC facilities or vehicles since Monday, April 27.

GRTC says the first employee who tested positive earlier this month has recovered and returned to work and the two cases are not believed to be related.

Officials say it is unknown how the employee contracted the virus and they were notified of the positive test on Wednesday.

“The transit industry has experienced that once the first positive case of COVID-19 is identified for an operator, there is a strong possibility that there will be more positive cases quickly afterwards,” said a GRTC spokesperson. “To protect the health of our staff and continuance of operations through this State of Emergency, GRTC’s policy is that any member of GRTC staff asking to be tested for COVID-19 regardless of any symptoms be placed on immediate paid leave and remain on paid quarantine until the test results are returned negative or they return to full health. With today’s positive test result, GRTC has asked that all operators and on-site staff schedule a COVID-19 test as soon as possible to stay ahead of any possible spread.”

As operators take paid leave to be tested and await results, GRTC cautions all riders that there may be “significant service disruptions or cancelations over the next two days.”

GRTC is asking customers to make make alternative arrangements for all essential trips for the remainder of this week.

“If GRTC does not have enough operations staff on duty to put at least minimal service on most every route, GRTC may need to cancel fixed-route service entirely for Thursday and Friday,” said the spokesperson. “If this happens, GRTC will put on-demand service in place for urgent and essential trips to medical facilities that cannot be met due to canceled transit services. This is only available if bus service is significantly disrupted or canceled, and the number for on-demand service will be released with the service disruption notice. All critical health care trips on our CARE service will be met. All service impacts will be posted daily on GRTC’s website and communicated through Customer Service at 804-358-4782.”

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COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.