What to know after 4 METRO workers test positive for COVID-19

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two more METRO employees have tested positive for COVID-19, officials confirm, bringing the total number of employees who have contracted the virus to four.

METRO said it received confirmation of the positive results for both employees on Tuesday, March 31.

The first employee works at a METRO radio command center to monitor radios and fare collection systems and had no interaction with the public, the transit authority said. The employee was last on the job on Thursday, March 19.

The second employee is a bus operator who was last on the job on Thursday, March 12. The bus operator drove the 7 West Airport route from March 9 through March 12 from 5 a.m. to 2:13 p.m.

The latest two cases were announced on Monday involving another bus operator and a METROLift employee who works in the dispatch area.

METRO said it received the positive results for those two cases on Sunday, March 29.

The METROLift employee was last on the job Thursday, March 26. METRO said the employee does not interact with the public.

The bus operator last worked March 25 and drove the 412 Greenlink Circulator route from 6 a.m. until 2:17 p.m. on the following days: March 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 23. The operator also drove the 247 Fuqua Park & Ride from 6:18 a.m. to 9:17 a.m. on March 24 and 25.

METRO says anyone who rode the routes driven by either of the operators in the last 14 days should monitor themselves for possible symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as you develop symptoms, and self-isolate. That also means refraining from using public transportation.

According to METRO, the buses used for the routes by the first driver who tested positive have been temporarily removed from service for additional sanitation.

METRO said it is also working with public health officials so it can identify and notify anyone who rode the bus on either of these routes in the last 14 days.

It is doing the following to help slow the spread of the virus and minimize the exposure:

  • Enhanced the cleaning and disinfecting of its buses
  • Since March 20, encouraged social distancing by placing tags on buses and rail to reduce the number of available seats by 50 percent and adding vehicles on heavily traveled routes to help accomplish that
  • On March 23, METRO implemented back-door boarding and temporarily suspended collecting fares to avoid unnecessary contact

Starting Monday, METRO will take the changes further, planning to only focus on connecting riders to essential destinations like work or the grocery store.

Most park & rides are suspended until further notice and all HOV lanes are closed.

Extra staff has been added to disinfect buses during the day.

READ: HOV lanes, Park & Rides suspended as METRO adjusts policies
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As of Monday, March 30, METRO will only focus on connecting riders to essential destinations, like work or the grocery store following the 'Stay Home, Work Safe" order issued by County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

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