ST. LOUIS — A Metro Transit bus driver is among the victims of the coronavirus.
The union that represents Bi-State Development employees identified him as Dennis Wallace in a tweet. They used the hashtag 'bus operators matter'.
"This is especially poignant because this team member died as the result of a disease that threatens all of us, not just at Bi-State but in the communities," said Jessica Mefford-Miller, Executive Director of Metro Transit. "So, our team is feeling a mixture of sadness and fear."
Wallace is the first COVID-19-related death within the Bi-State Development company. Another 13 employees across six locations have tested positive for the virus. They were asked to quarantine.
Just like doctors, nurses and grocery store workers, transit employees are classified as essential in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are carrying St. Louis everyday, all of the essential employees who are trying to reach their jobs," explained Mefford-Miller. "Metro keeps St. Louis moving."
Even while doing that, the transit system is taking its own steps to keep employees safe.
"We've implemented a number of measures to try and keep our operators safer," Mefford-Miller said.
Some of those things 5 On Your Side spotted at the Metro Transit hub in downtown St. Louis.
"We're sanitizing our facilities and our vehicles, we are keeping customers outside of a 6-foot range of all of our operators," Mefford-Miller explained.
But to prevent the virus from taking another life, the company is asking riders to use caution as well and only ride when absolutely necessary.
"We're encouraging customers not to travel if they are experiencing any symptoms and not to travel unless they are making an essential trip," she said.
Bi-State Development said doing this will make sure that when this pandemic ends, people still have a reliable transit system to return to.