Since the pandemic began just over a year ago, Metrolinx has kept everyone updated on actions to limit the spread of the virus and the number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19, including any efforts to support public health officials in contact tracing.
Given the rise in infection, the province this week issued a four-week stay-at-home order and declared the third state of emergency since the pandemic began asking people to only travel for essential purposes.
Ahead of the new orders, Metrolinx took additional measures to ensure both staff and customers continue to remain safe until the vaccine is more widely available.
Any staff who are able to work exclusively from home are continuing to do so as much as possible. Staff who must come into the workplace have been issued medical grade masks to provide further protection against the variants of concern and ensure our numbers of infected staff remains low.
This week, Metrolinx had two additional staff and contractors test positive for the virus. The Metrolinx employees had no direct contact with customers and appear to have contracted the virus outside the workplace. Some of the contractors were determined through proactive rapid testing which limited the spread.
The total number of Metrolinx staff testing positive is now 94 out of over 4,300 employees and remains a small percentage of the workforce.
The province also announced this week an expansion of the vaccination program ensuring more needles in arms during the four-week shutdown.
The Metrolinx Incident Command Team has now focused on the vaccine rollout to educate and support staff in getting vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
For the past very long year of the pandemic, customers have listened to the advice of public health and limited travel for essential purposes. Customers are especially encouraged to stay close to home during the stay-at-home order. If customers must travel, they are encouraged to continue to wear a face covering on public transit – even if they have been vaccinated.
Public health officials have made it very clear that until vaccinations are more widely available it is important that we all continue to follow the safety measures we have so diligently maintained such as wearing masks, keeping a safe distance and washing hands.
Metrolinx has not let down its guard. Vehicles and stations continue to receive additional deep cleaning, hand sanitizer on vehicles and in stations is replenished regularly, and staff continue to wear masks, eye guards and gloves.
All of the 40+ safety actions implemented over the last year to keep customers and staff safe remain in place such as unique barriers between seats on buses and trains and superior air filtration.
Stay safe and focused on the basics from public health:
- Monitor your health and stay home if ill or potentially exposed to COVID-19
- Wear a face covering and ensure both the nose and mouth is covered at all times (Check out the Metrolinx PPE dispensers and branded masks)
- Wash your hands regularly, use hand sanitizer and keep a safe distance from others
- Download the COVID Alert App so you can alert others if you test positive.
- Take care of your mental health.
Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager of media