TAMPA — Two Hillsborough bus drivers have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority confirmed.
The most recent case is a bus driver who last worked April 22. That operator drove eight different routes during the 10 days before then: Route 35 (Town 'N' Country), Route 60 (Cross County), Route 6 (56th St), Route 19 (South Tampa), Route 33 (Fletcher Avenue), Route 1 (Florida Avenue), Route 16 (Waters Avenue) and Route 39 (Busch Boulevard.).
The transit authority was notified Monday that the driver tested positive and informed employees on Tuesday. The agency notified employees of the first case on April 14.
The transit authority initially would not share details with the public about whether the first person to test positive was a bus driver or an office employee. Agency officials later changed their minds and shared information about the driver’s routes.
The first driver’s last day driving was April 8. In the two weeks prior to then, the operator drove Route 1 (Florida Avenue), Route 6 (56th Street), Route 30 (Kennedy Boulevard), Route 31 (South County) and Route 48 (Temple Terrace).
More than 1,100 cases of COVID-19 in Hillsborough County have been reported by the state, as of Wednesday morning. The county’s transit authority has more than 820 employees, including the two drivers who tested positive.
Pinellas County’s transit authority was not aware of any employees contracting COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, said Stephanie Rank, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority spokeswoman.
Both bus agencies have cut back service hours and asked riders to take the bus for essential trips only. Passengers are also encouraged to stagger their seating to meet social distancing guidelines.
“For the safety of everyone on board, riders are highly encouraged to wear a cloth face covering over their mouth and nose when in public and on transit, as recommended by the CDC,” said a notice posted Tuesday on the Hillsborough bus agency’s blog. “This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms, and is not a substitute for social distancing.”
Bus drivers are given hand sanitizer, gloves and masks, based on supply, an agency said. Employees were also told they could wear cloth masks, bandannas or scarves in lieu of a mask.
Hillsborough 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.
• • •
Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage
HAVE YOU LOST SOMEONE YOU LOVE TO COVID-19?: Help us remember them
UNEMPLOYMENT Q&A: We answer your questions about Florida unemployment benefits
CONTRIBUTE TO THE SCRAPBOOK: Help us tell the story of life under coronavirus
BRIGHT SPOTS IN DARK TIMES: The world is hard right now, but there’s still good news out there
LISTEN TO THE CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: New episodes every week, including interviews with experts and reporters
HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips
GET THE DAYSTARTER MORNING UPDATE: Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information, six days a week
We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.