UPDATED MAY 8: Originally reported April 29 (see below), this was later determined on May 6 with secondary testing to be a false-positive. Employee, a bus Operator, was cleared by the Virginia Department of Health and is back at work.
For Immediate Release
April 29, 2020
For more information, contact:
CARRIE ROSE PACE – (804) 516-4148 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Second GRTC Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
First known case for a bus Operator.
RICHMOND, Va. (April 29, 2020) – GRTC was notified today of a second employee, the first GRTC bus Operator, confirmed to have COVID-19 from an unknown source. Thankfully the Operator has reported only mild symptoms so far, and GRTC hopes for a full and quick recovery. The employee has not been in GRTC facilities or vehicles since Monday, April 27th.
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. To protect the health of 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 requests that customers 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. 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 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.
GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm says, “GRTC’s highest priority is the health of our staff. For nearly two months, we have been working on a case-by-case basis to proactively test and quarantine any staff who thought they may have been exposed to the virus or may be experiencing COVID-like symptoms. I am immensely grateful for the support of Henrico County leadership in quickly making the Henrico Testing Center available to GRTC staff. This service will allow us to quickly identify and contain any potential spread of the virus to other operators and staff, ensure all GRTC employees who test positive receive early and full medical care, and minimize service disruptions for our riders.”
High-touch surfaces at GRTC facilities and vehicles are disinfected daily with many areas also cleaned regularly during and between shifts. Staff also continue to practice social distancing and follow CDC guidance to wear cloth face coverings.
Timm expands, “While we continue to do everything we can to protect the health of our staff and maintain proper distance between operators and riders, it is critically important that our riders wear masks on all buses. Please protect our staff. Don’t ride without a mask.”
Earlier in April, GRTC announced its first positive COVID-19 case. That employee has already recovered and returned to work. These two employee cases are not believed to be related.
GRTC is a public service corporation providing mobility services in the Greater Richmond area. GRTC’s current operational budget of $53.9M primarily funds daily mobility operations and vehicle maintenance. GRTC provides more than 9.25 million trips annually.Download