MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Metro Transit is trying to figure out how an employee at its Heywood Garage contracted COVID-19.

The employee did not operate a Metro Transit vehicle with the general public on board.

The union representing drivers says it is working with Metro Transit to ensure drivers get the proper protective gear.

Their biggest concern is not having what they need to stay safe.

“We’ve been lucky so far that this hasn’t happened until now,” Ryan Timlin said.

ATU Local 1005 president Ryan Timlin feels precautions set up by Metro Transit have helped keep COVID-19 from impacting operators and riders. But, he knows this virus does not play by the rules.

“They implemented rear entry on the buses. We’re getting the masks out now,” Timlin said. “They are working with us to get the masks out, and there have been a bit of delays there too but we are working those kinks out.”

Timlin says the employee was a part timer, in training and only in contact with his trainers.

Those trainers are now off the job and quarantined.

“Enough is not being done right now to help these front line workers,” Timlin said.

Timlin says misinformation about the use and effectiveness of masks put his organization at risk.

He understands and supports the efforts by the state to take masks meant for drivers and give them to other essential workers.

“The nurses need some and the state had to come in and take half of the masks we did have because it’s such a massive shortage for the nurses who are in direct contact on a daily basis,” Timlin said.

Timlin says there are ways the public can protect themselves and drivers from the spread of COVID-19.

“If you see a bus that is full please do not get on it,” Timlin said. “Avoid it. Wait for the next bus if you can because some of these buses are getting packed.”

Making sure only essential workers are using mass transit is another way of helping keep the virus at bay.

“We’ve been hearing stories of people hanging out on and sitting on it and not going anywhere, so please if you don’t need to be out there don’t be out there,” Timlin said.

Reg Chapman