Detroit — A Detroit bus driver, who complained – and warned – in a Facebook video post about the dangers of the coronavirus has died. He admonished riders to not board and start coughing.
Jason Hargrove died Wednesday night of COVD-19, according to Glenn Tolbert, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 and multiple news accounts.
Tolbert, reached at home by the Free Press late Thursday, said he also had tested positive hours earlier and felt sick.
“It’s a trying time for the whole department right now,” he said, adding that other drivers are “really worried” and “obviously scared.”
Last month, bus drivers shut down public transportation by calling in sick because they were terrified of this very scenario.
Now, the news of a fellow driver’s death has reignited fears, with other drivers seeking additional precautions, such as adding a physical barrier to separate them, similar to what supermarkets are doing for cashiers, and even a temporary cessation of service.
“I just think the protections that have been put in place are inadequate for what’s going on out here,” said bus driver Roderick Nash, 47, of Haper Woods. “In my personal opinion, the mayor and the governor needs to shut everything down for a couple of weeks.”
On Thursday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan mentioned Hargrove’s story, among others, saying that it should touch everyone in the city and the country. Hargrove, he said, was someone “who knew the risks and was vocal about the risks,” but still went to work.
“It’s essential our buses keep rolling,” said Megan Owens, the executive director of Transportation Riders United.
“But just as essential is management doing everything it can to minimize risk to those drivers.”
Bus drivers, she said, are among the public’s essential workers and many healthcare professionals and residents rely on them to get to work.
Hargrove posted an 8 minute, obscenity-laced rant on his Facebook account on March 21 that warned that this coronavirus situation “is for real,” adding that “we’re out here, as public workers, doing our job trying to make an honest living to take care of our families.”
His post went on to complain that a rider _ who he described as a woman in her late 50s, early 60s _ coughed four or five times several times without covering her mouth in the midst of the pandemic.
“That lets me know, that some folks don’t care,” he said, adding he was very upset.
Tolbert said that Hargrove started feeling sick a few days after his post.
The day after the shutdown, the city agreed to restart service after agreeing to have passengers enter and exit from the rear of the bus, and keep the first row of seats behind the drivers empty to create a healthy distance between drivers and passengers.
Health officials recommend maintaining a distance of six feet between people to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
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