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Honolulu city bus driver tests positive for coronavirus

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Roger Morton, president and general manager of Oahu Transit Services, responds during a press conference today in Honolulu about a confirmed COVID-19 case involving a TheBus operator.

    BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Roger Morton, president and general manager of Oahu Transit Services, responds during a press conference today in Honolulu about a confirmed COVID-19 case involving a TheBus operator.

A bus driver for TheBus who operated several routes over the past week has tested positive for the coronavirus, Oahu Transit Services said today.

OTS, which operates TheBus, said in a statement that the organization was notified Saturday night that the worker tested positive, and all coworkers who may have come in close contact with the person were notified and are quarantining at home. All OTS employees have been notified of the positive case through email.

OTS said it was not clear how the driver came in contact with the virus. All buses operated by the driver have been deeply cleaned and disinfected.

“Our highest priority is to protect the health and well-being of our employees and the riding public,” said OTS President and General Manager Roger Morton in a statement. “As soon as we were notified of the one confirmed case, we confirmed that all buses driven by the employee and all areas in our facilities the employee had occupied were disinfected.”

The organization is working with the state Department of Health for guidance and protocols. The Health Department received the report late Saturday night and will share more information as it becomes available.

Honolulu officials urged the public to use public transit only for essential trips and that a face mask or covering is required to enter or ride TheBus or TheHandi-Van.

“When possible, limit travel on TheBus to essential trips,” said Jon Nouchi, deputy director of the city’s Department of Transportation Services. “We will make every effort to maintain a safe environment onboard TheBus and TheHandi-Van, including ramping up our services levels as Honolulu comes back to life and more people ride TheBus.”

TheBus and TheHandi-Van have taken steps to reduce the risk of infection while riding or operating a transit vehicle. Plastic curtains have been installed on all buses to provide a barrier between drivers and passengers as they board, the city said.

Seats closest to the operator have been made unavailable to provide greater space, and extra buses have been added on busy routes to provide more area for physical separation. All buses and vans are disinfected daily by wiping down all touch surfaces manually with a strong anti-virus disinfectant and receive nightly disinfecting fogging using an electrostatic spraying system, the city added.

>> RELATED STORY: Hawaii health officials report 27 new coronavirus cases, including 17 associated with an Oahu funeral

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