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‘We’re putting it on the line’: DDOT bus drivers want more protection amid COVID-19 pandemic

More than 50 drivers have contracted COVID-19

DETROIT – Detroit Department of Transportation bus drivers have been some of the essential employees who have been hit hard on the front lines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

One driver has died from COVID-19 and others have been hospitalized. Now, drivers are worried a promise was made by city hall for more protection that may not be fulfilled.

Drivers who said they’ve been assaulted and spit on said they want face shields for protection. They said the city promised face shields, but it’s taking more time than they expected.

“We’re coming out here, we’re putting it on the line. My men and women are putting it on the line every day,” President of DDOT Union Local 26 Glenn Tolbert said.

Almost from the beginning of the pandemic, the city has put a focus on protecting the men and women who drive city buses.

“We are the first responders to the first responders,” Tolbert said. “I mean, the hospitals turn people away. We are not allowed that luxury.”

READ: Michigan will have to return to phase 3 of reopening plan if COVID-19 spike continues, Whitmer says

Between 50 and 60 drivers have contracted coronavirus. That includes five who had to be ventilated and one who died. It led to an announcement on June 11 by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan about new enclosures and possibly face shields to fully protect the drivers. So far, the city hasn’t delivered.

July 15, 2020 -- Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 71,197; Death toll now at 6,085

Mikel Oglesby is the director of DDOT and said he feels drivers are as protected as they can be -- and said that the enclosures are coming. Oglesby said the timeline has never changed and that enclosures should be in place by early next year.

READ: Michigan coaches join Gov. Whitmer to encourage mask usage as COVID-19 cases rise


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