A man wearing a face mask walks toward the rear door of a Community Transit bus at the Everett Station on March 20. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A man wearing a face mask walks toward the rear door of a Community Transit bus at the Everett Station on March 20. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

5 more Community Transit workers test positive for COVID-19

Fewer buses are running as at least nine transit employees have tested positive in Snohomish County.

EVERETT — At least nine Community Transit employees are now presumed to be positive for COVID-19.

More transit service reductions are coming in Snohomish County, as fewer people take the bus amid a coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement Wednesday, Community Transit announced five more employees, in addition to the four bus drivers who tested positive last week, likely have COVID-19. Another eight employees were awaiting test results.

The employees self-reported their positive tests, last worked between March 5 and 17 and stayed home once symptoms began. None worked the past week.

The eight employees with pending tests have self-quarantined at home. None of them have gone to work since March 17.

“We are very disheartened and saddened that several of our employees have become ill from COVID-19 and are working to provide them with the support and resources they need,” Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath said in a statement.

An additional eight employees had symptoms, but tested negative.

Community Transit said health privacy laws keep it from releasing more details about ill or potentially ill employees, including which routes or buses they worked on.

“Public health officials have advised the agency that given the high number of cases in our region, it is challenging to know whether or not infections occurred in the community or on the job,” Heath said in a statement.

Plummeting ridership prompted the transit agency to reduce service temporarily starting March 30.

The number of people boarding is down 66% from pre-pandemic, according to Community Transit.

Commuter routes to Seattle, the University of Washington and Boeing will be reduced. All routes will see fewer trips, with longer gaps between the runs.

Public health concerns about the spread of COVID-19 pushed Community Transit to suspend fare collection and cordon a section of seats near the drivers, which enforces the 6-foot social distancing rule ordered by the state.

Two signs on the front door of a Community Transit bus direct riders to the rear doors and alert them that payments are suspended. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Two signs on the front door of a Community Transit bus direct riders to the rear doors and alert them that payments are suspended. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file) Purchase Photo

Also struggling from a decline in passengers, the state Department of Transportation reduced Amtrak Cascades trains to two daily round trips between Seattle and Portland.

After seeing a 50% decline in riders compared to last year, Everett Transit is cutting service starting Sunday. All routes are switching to Sunday schedules with less frequent runs and reduced hours. It’s going fare-free, too.

So far, no Everett Transit drivers have tested positive for COVID-19, city communications director Kimberley Cline said.

Community Transit has revamped its cleaning procedures, including a nightly disinfectant spray.

For those who use their vanpool service, the agency is offering a reduced rate starting April 1.

On Friday, the agency added supplemental leave for employees considered high risk, those with COVID-19 symptoms and those who need time to find new child care due to school and daycare closures.

The agency created a page for updates related to coronavirus, communitytransit.org/coronavirus.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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