Daily screenings will now be routine for Honolulu city bus drivers

Daily screenings will now be routine for Honolulu city bus drivers
Starting Thursday TheBus will require daily temperature checks of drivers before their shift begins. Last week a driver tested positive for COVID-19. (Source: Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city bus driver who tested positive for COVID-19 drove on five routes last week.

On Monday he drove a day shift on the number 40. He then did afternoon to evening runs the rest of the week -- the 88a on Tuesday, the 501 on Wednesday, the 9 on Thursday, and the 42 on Friday.

Jonathan Brooks rides the 40 or 42 daily.

"Those are the buses that I ride on a regular basis to and from work. I was quite concerned," he said.

On Monday Oahu Transit Services, the company that operates The Bus, said its now taking stronger steps to monitor drivers' health.

“When our operators and our Handi-Van workers check in for work, we’re going to do a 100 percent every day screening for fever and temperature,” OTS president Roger Morton said.

He said this is addition to the company’s other safety measures that include daily disinfecting of buses, and drivers being required to have a mask on when passengers board and get off. Drivers also have a plastic curtain they can use to shield themselves from passengers.

That comforts some bus riders.

"If he had his mask on and the plastic sheet over, I don't think we would be affected by that," Daniel Herrell said.

Some riders wonder if a passenger got the driver sick.

”We have to stay masked up. There’s always six feet and there’s a red line now behind the driver. So we can’t even stand up close,” Anjetta Johnson said.

The driver told OTS he started feeling ill Monday but drove the whole week until he got tested for COVID on Friday. Some riders said it was irresponsible for him to keep working and OTS needs to a better job.

"I think they should have checked him earlier because that was a whole week," Herrell said.

Morton said the company is doing a test run on some bases with permanent Plexiglas shields that separate drivers.

Starting Friday, OTS will begin coronavirus testing of TheBus and TheHandi-Van drivers and OTS employees.

"We are in strong support of what the management at OTS is proposing to do in regards to testing for our members. We still need to meet with our stewards to bring them up to date with what the plans are moving forward," said Wayne Kaululaau, president of Hawaii Teamsters Local 996.

“Am I going to go after the particular driver? Probably not,” Morton said. “But I do want to use it as a learning moment for all of us at TheBus company.”

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said passengers who may have been in the driver's bus should talk to their doctors if they're concerned and want to get tested for COVID.

"We don't want to see any more people die. If you're sick stay at home, check it out, wait to get better then come back to work," he said.

Bus riders who believe they rode with the infected driver but don’t have health insurance can have their tests done for free at Kalihi-Palama Health Center, Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, Koolauloa Health Center, the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, and the Waimanalo Health Center.

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