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Sault Transit workers self-isolate after one tests positive for COVID

Number of affected employees isn't currently known, but isn't expected to cause major service disruptions
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An undisclosed number of Sault Transit employees are self-isolating after one of them tested positive for the coronavirus.

Tom Vair, the city's deputy chief administrative officer for community development and enterprise services, tells SooToday that he learned yesterday that Algoma Public Health was contacting workers to advise them of a possible COVID exposure.

"With respect to an employee testing positive, Algoma Public Health has identified and directly notified close contacts and has provided public health guidance," Vair said in a written statement.

"Through case and contact management, a limited group of individuals were identified as close contacts with exposure risks."

"Due to privacy considerations, the city is not able to confirm whether the staff member testing positive was a transit driver or a member of the broader transit team."

Vair said Algoma Public Health considers the exposure to have been low-risk.

"However, if any service modifications are required, we will communicate this to the public as soon as possible," he said.

In an interview, Vair told SooToday he wasn't able to disclose the number of transit employees who are self-isolating, but said: "It's not enough to take down the system."

The number is also currently insufficient to require route cancellations or other major changes, he said.

The following are additional excerpts from Vair's written statement:

Transit Services has implemented many modifications to support the physical distancing and enhanced cleaning efforts recommended by Algoma Public Health and provincial and federal governments.

In addition to the general distancing, sanitization and mask requirements, Transit Services continues to provide an essential community service in a manner that is safe and accessible to all.

  • additional cleaning and sanitization protocols have been conducted on a continuous basis. Cleaning staff undertake enhanced measures to ensure buses are appropriately disinfected
  • Sault Ste. Marie Transit is to be used for essential travel only, and to follow public health guidelines including wearing a mask
  • customers are asked to board and exit buses using the appropriate doors only
  • Transit Services has been limiting the amount of passengers per bus for increased physical distancing measures
  • all transit drivers are equipped with individual hand sanitizers and refill bottles for their use. Also have masks, gloves and shields as needed
  • mounts with hand sanitizer bottles are located in all para buses due to close proximity that operators are with para bus clients
  • protective shields are installed on all buses for the health and safety of bus drivers and customers
  • disinfectant spray is in each bus for operator use on a regular basis, as well as disinfecting wipes
  • seats are blocked off the ensure physical distancing
  • signage is posted on all buses as a reminder to follow public health guidelines.

We continue to work closely with Algoma Public Health to assist with its efforts regarding test results.

Customers are urged to respect onboard protocols and signage at all times.

We thank our customers for their patience and our drivers for their dedicated service to our community during this time.

David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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