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Hillsborough transit employee tests positive for coronavirus

Employees were notified within 24 hours and will be told if they were in prolonged contact with the individual who tested positive.

TAMPA — A Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority employee tested positive for COVID-19, agency officials said.

The transit authority would not say whether the employee was a bus driver or office staff. Spokeswoman Carson Chambers said staff were notified of the positive test result within 24 hours of the agency learning of the case.

“Understandably, there will be anxieties surrounding this announcement,” interim chief executive Carolyn House Stewart wrote in an employee advisory Tuesday.

The agency will notify employees who had “direct, prolonged exposure to the team member," the memo said.

Transit authority employees who are sick are told not to come to work. Those experiencing symptoms linked to COVID-19 — such as a cough, shortness of breath, or a fever — and have been directed to self-quarantine were instructed to contact the agency benefits manager.

Related: Tampa Bay bus agencies posied to receive $91 million in federal money

All employees who test positive receive 14 days of paid leave, Chambers said in a statement.

Bus drivers are given hand sanitizer, gloves and masks, based on supply, the memo said. Employees were also told they could wear cloth masks, bandannas or scarves in lieu of a mask.

“In the face of this unprecedented time, we appreciate your dedicated service to provide essential transportation to Hillsborough County,” Stewart’s advisory said. “We will continue to keep you informed as we together navigate this fluid and uncertain time."

Related: Hillsborough cuts back bus service as ridership falls during coronavirus spread

Office staff was required to report to the workplace for all of March, unless they were sick or had documentation of being directed to self-quarantine by a doctor, according to employee advisories. Those who wanted to self-quarantine or had to stay home, because their children were not in school or they lost childcare due to the coronavirus, were told they need to use sick days or vacation time.

Working from home was not an option until April 1, though others were still required to come in.

Depending on the individual’s job and manager, employees are offered flexible/staggered work schedules, reduced work schedules and remote working, according to a news release.

The bus agency has cut back service hours and asked riders to take the bus for essential trips. Passengers are also encouraged to stagger their seating to meet social distancing guidelines.

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