JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For months, Jacksonville’s essential workers have shown up to work to provide the services that can’t stop, even in the middle of a pandemic.
The result is dozens of Jacksonville’s first responders, including firefighters, police officers and medical professionals have been sidelined, with some testing positive for COVID-19. With them, at least three bus operators for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority have tested positive too.
Recently, and for the first time in Jacksonville, an employee working for the city’s program that helps transport people with disabilities has died from complications due to COVID-19.
The employee, who has not been identified, does not work directly for JTA, but works for a company hired to provide dispatchers, bus operators, supervisors and reservations for JTA’s Connexion para-transit service.
The company, MV Transportation Inc, said that the employee who died from COVID-19 was not in a position to regularly interact with passengers, but it still plans to test any bus operators who came in close contact.
“All MV employees who may have come in close contact with the employee have been sent home for self-isolation. Additionally, out of an abundance of caution, all vehicles, workspaces, and other areas of the operation have received a deep cleaning in addition to our normal at least daily deep cleaning of vehicles and facilities,” said Jeff Womak with MV Transportation.
This has been MV’s first positive test and death in Jacksonville related to the coronavirus, according to Womak.
Data on how many employees, including bus operators, are being tested and how many have tested positive as a result has not been provided.
The recent death of the employee comes as the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office announced a number of COVID-19 cases reported within the Duval County jail. A total of 20 inmates have tested positive, and 17 jail employees are in self-quarantine, Undersheriff Pat Ivey said Monday.
The Duval County Health Department began testing more than 2,700 inmates booked into the county’s three facilities on Tuesday.
Despite a recent spike in reported COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville, Mayor Lenny Curry said Monday that hospitals are reporting more ICU beds available now than before the pandemic.
In an email Monday, the city’s public communications office said “ICUs are at 68 percent capacity, which is equivalent to the capacity prior to the pandemic. In some cases, it’s lower.”