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Regional transit agency says medical authorities believe the threat to others is low, in part because the employee has not been at work since March 20

PMG FILE PHOTO - A triMet MAX light rail train.A TriMet operator has tested positive for COVID-19, the regional transit agency said Monday evening.

"We believe this is the first TriMet operator to have a positive test. Our thoughts are with the operator and their family. We hope our operator will make a quick and full recovery," TriMet said in a March 30 statement.

The operator — who was not identified for privacy reasons — worked out of the Merlo Operating Facility in Beaverton. TriMet said that because the operator had not experienced symptoms while working and has not been at work since March 20, health experts say the risk to others was low.

According to TriMet, the facility has been cleaned multiple times during the past 10 days as have been the buses based at that facility.

TriMet said it has been closely coordinating with the health authorities since before COVID-19 was first detected in our community. The agency said it spoke with health experts again Monday to clarify any concern about exposure for TriMet coworkers and riders.

"TriMet appreciates that the operator stayed home after a concern of exposure to COVID-19. We encourage other employees and riders who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home and follow the direction of their medical professionals," TriMet said.

TriMet has taken steps to increase employee safety, including temporarily prohibiting cash fares. The union that represents most TriMet employees says more need to be done.

TriMet ridership has dropped around 50% since the COVID-19 outbreak and the agency is planning service reduction to take effect on April 5.

The announcement was made on the same day that the Salem's public transit system said it was shutting down until further notice, noting staffing shortages, including seven employees who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Salem Area Mass Transit District is known as Cherriots


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