First in-service bus driver tests positive for COVID-19, TheBus confirmed

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A bus operator for TheBus has tested positive for coronavirus, TheBus and TheHandi-Van confirmed on June 28.

Oahu Transport Services learned about it on Saturday night, June 27.

According to officials, the driver started to feel sick on Monday, June 22, and got tested on Friday, June 26.

The driver operated buses on several bus routes over the past week.

Here are the bus routes the employee drove between June 22 through June 26:

  • Route 9 – Pearl Harbor to Kaimuki
  • Route 40 – Makaha to Honolulu
  • Route 42 – Ewa Beach to Waikiki
  • The 88A – North Shore Express
  • The 501 – Mililani Mauka

OTS President and General Manager Roger Morton added, “The driver typically reported out of the Pearl City division, which covers most of the suburban part of Oahu.”

“His last day driving was Friday. He drove every day: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday,” said Morton.

He says that bus drivers typically drive between eight to nine hours a day.

At this time it is unknown how or when the employee came in contact with the virus.

Following notification of the test result, Morton said that they had to figure out which employees had come into any contact with the driver. He said that there were only a few and that those people have been individually notified. Other employees were also notified. We’re told 2 are under quarantine from this incident and that includes the driver.

“This was not totally unexpected,” said OTS President and General Manager Roger Morton. “I know the riding public is concerned, ‘Are the buses safe in the middle of the pandemic?”

Morton goes on to list the efforts that have been made for TheBus, such as plastic curtains to act as a barrier in between the driver and riders, and other sanitation and precautionary practices. And seats closest to the driver are unavailable to create extra distance. Officials say the interactions between the driver and passengers are usually short

“So we are confident that the protections we put in place and some of the procedures we put into place will keep the workforce and our other passengers as safe as possible,” said Deputy Director Jon Nouchi of the Transportation Department Services.

Nouchi says they will work with the state which is responsible for doing contract tracing.

Morton says that the buses the driver drove and areas the driver was in have been disinfected. He says they spend a great deal sanitizing all of the buses.

“We employed a contractor to come in with a crew every night and provide a fumigant fog to sanitize those surfaces we can’t reach with our hands,” said Morton.

He also says that all riders, including drivers, are required to wear a mask when on board.

This is the first in-service bus operator to test positive for COVID-19. Morton added, “We had one previous bus operator that returned from the mainland, sick from the mainland, that person never came back to drive a bus. And that person has recovered fully and is now back at work. That was probably two and a half months ago.”

We’re told possible temperature checks are in the works for employees.

“We are planning some screening of people on a random basis so that we can verify that there is compliance with the requirement that they self monitor themselves in terms of fevers like that at home,” said Morton.

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