The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET) announced a driver who is employed by their subcontractor, RATP Dev USA, Inc., tested positive December 17 for the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. The driver last worked Tuesday and operated routes 501/55, bus unit 803. The driver will self-quarantine for 14 days and then be retested before being allowed return to work, pending a negative result. The COMET provides complimentary on-site COVID testing monthly for all staff and drivers in addition to employees exercising the option to test with a healthcare provider of their choosing. As of yesterday, riders of The COMET can receive free testing at the transit hub at COMET Central through a partnership with SC DHEC.
The bus is currently receiving deep disinfecting, or fogging. Increased disinfection of all vehicles and facilities has been implemented since the start of the pandemic and mandatory masks or face coverings to ride The COMET buses or enter facilities went into effect early this summer.
“We hope that as people celebrate the holidays, they continue to practice the safety guidelines established. As the pandemic evolves, we will continue to be transparent to protect the community and to do our part to reduce cases,” said John Andoh, Executive Director/CEO of The COMET. “Our protocols are also evolving as we continue to explore newer and better ways to ensure that we protect our staff and our passengers so they can continue to travel safely during the Thanksgiving holiday and beyond. The safety of our bus operators, our riders and the public is always top of mind.”
The buses are being upgraded with plexiglass barriers between the drivers and passengers to minimize the possibility of any exposure. This implementation not only minimizes the likelihood of transmission, but also protects the bus operators from any assault. The administration building, which holds the driver’s lounge will also receive this disinfecting. Since the start of the pandemic, The COMET has put in place some of the most stringent cleaning and safety measures in the transit industry. Bus operators and staff are required to use the multiple temperature check stations, located in the administration building which houses the drivers’ lounge, upon reporting for their shift.
“Along with the daily sanitizing of our facilities, the mandatory mask requirements and other measures, we believe we have done our best to reduce the possibility of spread,” said Andoh.
In line with the focus on the health and safety of its drivers, passengers and employees, The COMET established a process to notify the public if a customer-facing employee tests positive for COVID-19 for the purpose of contact tracing to minimize spread. Any concerned passengers who were on the affected routes may access low to no-cost community testing resources by visiting the testing kiosk at COMET Central or by visiting https://scdhec.gov/infectious-diseases/viruses/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-testing-locations for more information.