As Virginia continues to move through phased reopening, and in compliance with the Governor’s mandate announced today, effective Friday, May 29, GRTC requires all passengers to wear face masks or nose and mouth coverings while riding. Passengers without masks may be asked to exit the bus.
More than 2,000 customers received free cloth face masks from GRTC this Spring, and GRTC has 20,000 more masks on order to provide to customers still needing a mask. Priority will be given to front door passengers needing Operator assistance.
GRTC continues to encourage ongoing, voluntary testing of all staff for COVID-19. Today, GRTC received notice of one new case suspected to have occurred outside of work. The employee, a bus Operator, has not been on duty since May 18 and currently has mild symptoms. To date, more than half of GRTC’s employees have been voluntarily tested with only six confirmed cases since mid-March. No employees are currently in the hospital. The updated list of cases is below.
GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm says, “My heart is with our staff continuing to recover from COVID-19 at home. I am pleased to see our collective efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus within GRTC are working, and I ask our customers to help us remain safe by wearing face masks while riding, using the hand sanitizer when you board and exit, and following all public health guidelines.”
For clarity, this is the list of COVID-19 case reports to date:
1st Case: Reported April 6. Employee has recovered and is back at work.
False 2nd Case: Reported April 29, but 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.
Actual 2nd Case: Initial results reported to GRTC on May 3 as an asymptomatic positive test. Secondary test results received on May 6 confirmed the positive result. Employee was on paid sick leave starting on the initial test date of May 2 and remains on paid sick leave. Employee is a recent hire and has not been involved in public bus service. Employee remains asymptomatic and on leave.
3rd Case: Initial results reported to GRTC on May 2 as negative test. The GRTC employee, a bus Operator, exhibited asthma symptoms on May 7, was relieved from duty to receive medical attention, was re-tested and was reported positive for COVID-19. Employee was treated in a local hospital due to complications from underlying health conditions but is now in recovery.
4th Case: Initial results reported May 6 as an asymptomatic positive test. The employee, a bus Operator, has been on paid sick leave since May 6. Secondary test results were received the afternoon of May 8 and confirmed the positive results. The employee was treated overnight at a local hospital and released. The employee is in recovery.
5th Case: Potential contact with 3rd Case noted May 7. The employee, a bus Operator, has been on paid sick leave since May 8, was tested, and confirmed positive for COVID-19 on May 13. The employee is in recovery.
6th Case: The employee, a bus Operator, was tested on Sunday, May 24 after experiencing mild symptoms starting on Saturday, May 23. The positive test result was returned on Tuesday, May 26. The employee has not been at work since Monday, May 18 and is not suspected to have contracted COVID-19 while on duty. Employee currently has mild symptoms and is quarantined at home.
GRTC will have weekly to bi-weekly on-site testing at GRTC facilities available through Better Med for all GRTC staff starting on June 1. GRTC is collaborating with the Virginia Department of Health on individual notifications for potentially affected staff, in compliance with HIPAA laws to protect the confidentiality of staff medical information. After individuals are notified, GRTC informs all staff of any new positive cases, followed by a public update. GRTC continues to encourage any staff who think they may have been exposed to the virus or may be experiencing COVID-like symptoms to be proactively tested and quarantined pending test results. This process allows GRTC to quickly identify and contain any potential spread of the virus to other staff, ensuring all GRTC employees who test positive receive early and full medical care and fully paid leave.
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. Customers are required to wear cloth face masks or coverings while riding to protect GRTC staff and other passengers. Hand sanitizer dispensers are available for customers on-board. Windows are left open on-board to improve ventilation and air circulation inside.
GRTC continues to procure and provide cloth face masks, protective gloves, face shields and cleaning supplies to staff. There are already 31 buses with driver shields previously installed, and GRTC is currently retrofitting the rest of the fleet with driver protective barriers.