Two Cherriots drivers test positive for COVID-19

People get on a Cherriots bus downtown. (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

A second driver at Cherriots, Salem’s local transit service, has tested positive for COVID-19, the agency confirmed Wednesday.

In a memo to employees Wednesday, March 25, Cherriots General Manager Allan Pollock said the second driver last worked on Saturday, March 21.

The memo didn’t provide any additional details to the agency’s 124 drivers.

Marion County officials said 55 people in the county have tested positive for Covid-19. There have been two deaths.

On Tuesday, Pollock informed employees that the first driver had fallen ill with the novel coronavirus. He said during the last shift, the driver handled two different buses from about 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13.

Cherriots declined to provide details about which routes either driver had taken. The agency wouldn’t answer questions about how long either driver had been on the road prior to getting sick or when they found out about the illnesses. Agency officials also wouldn’t explain why riders on routes staffed by the drivers shouldn’t be told.

Spokeswoman Patricia Feeny said, “Providing this level of detail would potentially identify the employee and this individual has a right to medical privacy.”

When asked about a third potential case at the transit agency, Feeny said there is no confirmation.

Earlier this week, Cherriots urged riders not to take transit unless it’s absolutely necessary. Riders are also advised to enter through the back of the bus to prevent the spread of germs.

It has started reducing frequency on some routes – fifteen on Wednesday – and dropped specialty services, such as Cherriots Dial-a-Ride that takes seniors and people with disabilities to places like the grocery store. Its lobbies in downtown Salem and at the Keizer transit center remain closed.

NOTE: Keizertimes is providing free access to its content related to the coronavirus as a community service. Subscriptions help support this.