On Sun., May 10, Port Authority announced that a 14th employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee, a bus driver from the East Liberty garage, is currently being treated at a hospital. They last worked on May 5.
"Upon learning of the case late Saturday night, Port Authority mobilized a maintenance team to disinfect vehicles the employee had most recently operated and areas of the building where the employee was known to have been," states a press release.
Port Authority also announced it would begin taking temperatures of employees working at the East Liberty garage and sending them home if they have a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees. Previously, this was only done for employees at the West Mifflin garage.
There are currently 39 Port Authority employees staying home from work as they await COVID-19 test results.
“Now, more than ever, people need access to reliable public transportation,” said Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman in a press release last week. “We will continue to provide reliable public transit to the thousands of people who rely on us as long as we can continue to do so safely.”
Update: 2:50 p.m., Thu., April 23:
On Wed., April 22, the Port Authority announced that an eighth employee, a maintenance worker, has tested positive for COVID-19. According to a press release, the employee has been quarantining at home since they last worked on April 10.
"As an additional precaution, Port Authority has reduced its maintenance team at this location to a skeleton crew for the next two weeks in an effort to prevent further spread," states the press release.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Port Authority will soon begin taking temperatures of maintenance workers when they show up to work.
Original story posted on Mon., April 20:
In a press release, Port Authority announced that a maintenance worker was the seventh employee to test positive for COVID-19. The employee has been quarantining at home since they last worked on April 17. Port Authority confirmed its first employee case of COVID-19 on March 27.
Port Authority stated that they "immediately mobilized a crew to perform a deep cleaning of the garage and the employee’s work areas." Over the weekend, Port Authority shifted the maintenance team to a holiday schedule and had an outside cleaning crew disinfect their building. Currently, 68 Port Authority employees are staying home from work awaiting COVID-19 test results.
Last week, local advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) hosted a virtual press conference on the issue of bus rider and worker safety amid the pandemic. PPT called for more protections, including increasing bus frequency to make up for rider limit and increasing hazard pay for workers.
Last week, Port Authority began limiting the number of riders allowed on each bus to allow for proper social distancing. Beginning on April 19, Port Authority riders now have to wear a face-covering to board the bus.
"It's not a stretch to say that our collective survival depends on the ability of our transit systems to continue to move effectively," said PPT executive director Laura Wiens during the press conference.
Port Authority has already reduced service on dozens of routes. Some cities have had to take even more drastic action. In San Francisco, the Muni bus service cut service to 70 bus lines in order to focus all resources on the 17 routes most critically needed.