A bus driver for the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANTA) has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), but the authority says it has no way of determining who may have ridden on the bus the driver last operated on March 20.
In a post on LANTA’s Facebook page, officials said that “given privacy issues and the way LANTA drivers’ work is scheduled, the information we can provide to the public is that the driver was regularly scheduled to operate routes in the Bethlehem and Easton area.”
“Many LANTA riders transfer between route, so we cannot determine who may have been on a bus driven by this particular driver,” the statement continued.
LANTA said it has taken precautionary measures since being notified Tuesday that the driver tested positive for the virus, including:
- Confirming that the buses the driver used on their last two workdays underwent disinfectant cleaning the night after service.
- Communicating the employee’s diagnosis to all LANTA employees with instructions on steps they should take.
- Identifying employees who had contact with the employee and discussing necessary actions with them.
- Continuing to disinfect buses every night and reviewing daily reports to ensure that each bus has received disinfectant cleaning since the last time it was in service.
- Continued use of disposable nitrile gloves by all drivers.
- Issuing hand sanitizer to drivers and instructing all employees on how to minimize their risk of contracting or spreading COVID 19.
- Cleaning LANTA garage facilities daily.
The statement also noted that all buses are equipped with safety shields by the driver seats, which help to minimize contact between drivers and riders.
“If a LANTA employee has symptoms as identified by the CDC as being consistent with COVID-19, they have been instructed not to come to work and to consult a medical professional as to whether they should be tested,” LANTA said. “They are to follow the guidance they receive from the medical professional. If they are instructed to be tested for COVID-19, they remain out of work until their test results come back.”
Riders who have concerns about potential exposure to the driver should follow guidelines from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/ the Pennsylvania Department of Health (1-877-724-3258) or health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/.
More information can also be found on LANTA’s website.
Hellertown borough is served by LANTA Route 215, which makes stops at the Bethlehem Transportation Center, Lehigh Valley Health Network-Muhlenberg, Lehigh Valley International Airport and Lehigh Valley Industrial Park III.
The news that a LANTA driver has tested positive for COVID-19 came on a day when both Northampton and Lehigh County residents were ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf to stay at home until at least April 6, unless they leave to perform essential work duties, to purchase life-sustaining supplies such as food or for another qualified reason.
On Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania surged to more than 1,100 and the number of deaths attributed to the illness increased from seven to 11. The total number of confirmed cases in the Lehigh Valley is approaching 100, and so far there have been three deaths attributed to COVID-19, all of them in Northampton County.