Since January 2020, Metrolinx has kept everyone updated on the actions to limit the spread of the virus including any new efforts implemented to keep everyone safe and been transparent about the number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19.
This week, Metrolinx had 11 additional staff across a variety of work locations in the GTHA test positive for COVID-19.
Although it does it appear to be contained, Halton Region Public Health (HRPH) has also declared an outbreak at Appleby GO Station as it fits the definition of two or more staff testing positive within a 14-day period. Staff who have contracted the virus and any staff at risk are isolating at home.
HRPH has not provided recommendations for further staff isolations or testing at this point. Under the supervision of public health officials, Metrolinx will continue to strictly enforce infection prevention and control best practices including:
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces in stations frequently and thoroughly.
- Ensure all employees wear medical masks at all times, avoid unmasked interactions with other staff and customers, physical distance from others even while wearing a mask, practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Ensure all staff self-audit by following the health screening process before entering the workplace.
- Ensure that all staff who are experiencing any symptoms stay home.
Both frontline and Metrolinx staff working from home are being encouraged and supported with paid time off to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.
Customers and Metrolinx staff are also reminded they must follow all safety protocols even once vaccinated. Public health officials say it typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. And no one will be fully protected until 2 weeks after the 2nd dose of a two-dose vaccine.
The total number of Metrolinx staff that have tested positive is now 136 out of over 4,500 employees – approximately 3% of the workforce. Of the total number of Metrolinx staff who tested positive, more than 90% contracted the virus outside the workplace and over 50% have been working from home.
Since the pandemic began, Metrolinx has implemented over 40 permanent safety actions such as unique protective barriers between seats on buses and trains and superior air filtration on vehicles which has helped keep case levels within critical frontline transit staff low.
As the variants of concern cause an alarming increase in cases across the province, Metrolinx has expanded safety measures such as issuing medical masks for staff and implementing rapid testing in high risk locations to ensure everyone continues to stay safe until vaccination rates are higher.
Everyone across the region is making progress, but health officials agree there is a long way to go.
Experts say the stress of the pandemic does have a negative impact on the mental health of both customers and staff.To help as much as possible, Metrolinx has developed resources and supports for employees as they navigate through this challenging time. And it is important that everyone take care of their mental health.
Stay safe and focused on the basics from public health:
- Stay home if ill or potentially exposed to COVID-19; get tested if experiencing symptoms and consider getting vaccinated. Check eligibility.
- Only travel for essential purposes during stay-at-home order.
- Even if vaccinated, continue to wear a face covering (Check out the Metrolinx PPE dispensers and branded masks).
- Wash hands regularly, use hand sanitizer and keep a safe distance from others.
- Download the COVID Alert App.
Story by Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx senior manager of media