BOSTON (CBS) — Three bus drivers have tested positive for coronavirus, the MBTA said Wednesday. The T said it took immediate steps to clean and disinfect all exposed buses and work areas after receiving reports of the positive tests on Tuesday.
“We ask the public to keep our employees in their thoughts, and I continue to express my deep gratitude to the women and men of the MBTA workforce who are serving a vital purpose in combatting COVID-19,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said in a statement. “To ensure we can protect the health and safety of our workforce, we strongly urge essential travel only, and we will continue our enhanced protocols for cleaning and disinfecting all vehicles, equipment, and surfaces.”
— Beth Germano (@BethWBZ) March 25, 2020
The T said it is legally prohibited from providing identifying information about an employee’s medical status. Public health officials will alert close contacts of those who tested positive and will tell them to self-quarantine, according to the T.
The MBTA has been running on a reduced schedule due to the pandemic. Since Saturday, bus riders have been told to board through the rear doors.
All high-contact surfaces on buses are being cleaned and disinfected during mid-day layover periods, in addition to a regular daily cleaning.
“We don’t know names, we don’t know routes, we don’t know what interaction we may have had with these people. We don’t know anything,” said one worried MBTA bus driver who spoke with WBZ-TV but wanted to remain anonymous. “It’s like driving in a tin can, all it takes is one person to infect a whole bus. And it takes is one driver to infect anyone. … Anybody on the front lines needs to be tested, period. If they’re not, they’re going to spread it.”
The Boston Carmen’s Union said it is working with the T to help keep its members healthy.
“We hope that the Baker Administration and the MBTA recognize the incredible commitment of this workforce when making decisions about compensation and sick leave for their essential employees, particularly during this unprecedented time,” the union said in a statement.
At a Wednesday press conference Mayor Marty Walsh referred all questions about the bus drivers to the MBTA.
Massachusetts has reported 11 deaths and 1,159 confirmed cases of coronavirus. As of Tuesday, 13,749 people have been tested.