Stephen Hasner | News | July 22, 2020
A third worker of the Atlanta transit system has died from the coronavirus. Eugene Presley was a bus driver in Gwinnett County since 2015.
Mr. Presley died on July 1 after contracting the coronavirus. He was the third employee to die from COVID-19. A supervisor and a MARTA station maintainer have also died from the coronavirus.
Employees of the transit system gathered at the to demand additional protections from the coronavirus. They are demanding that the transit system requires passengers to wear masks. However, transit operators are hesitant to require passengers to wear masks.
Transit authorities have wrestled with the issue of requiring passengers to wear masks. Some transit authorities do not want to turn away passengers for not wearing masks because they cannot afford the masks. Other companies are hesitant to require passengers to wear masks because they fear confrontations between employees and people who refuse to wear masks.
Many transit systems have taken steps to protect passengers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. They promote social distancing by limiting the number of passengers on buses, trains, and other city transit systems. However, many transit workers claim that the measures are not enough.
Transit systems in New York City and other major cities throughout the United States have been hit hard by COVID-19 deaths. Drivers and employees in the transit system are front line workers. They show up and work to keep transportation moving throughout our cities.
However, these workers are exposed to hundreds of people each day. Just one of the passengers could pass the COVID-19 virus to a driver who then takes the virus home to his or her family members. Some cities have passed laws requiring passengers to wear masks, but most cities have not taken that step to protect the employees who operate the transit system.
Can Transit Workers File Workers’ Compensation Claims for COVID-19 Illnesses?
The workers’ compensation system in Georgia covers most workers, including metro transit workers. If an employee is injured on the job, that employee may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits generally include payment of medical bills and loss of income benefits.
However, filing a workers’ compensation claim related to COVID-19 can be challenging. You must prove that you became ill while you were at work. Unfortunately, it is difficult to prove that you contracted the coronavirus at work because you could come into contact with an infected person in other places.
A bus driver or transit worker may have a better argument that they contracted the disease at work because their job requires them to come into contact with hundreds of people. Still, it can be an uphill battle. You need an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to help you with your claim.
If you are approved for workers’ compensation benefits because of COVID-19, you could receive:
- Benefits to help with loss of income
- Benefits for a permanent disability caused by coronavirus
- Medical benefits
- Rehabilitative care costs
Safety Measures Everyone Can Take to Protect Themselves and Others from COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta continue to remind people that they need to take steps to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus. The most recent information about COVID-19 indicates that it can spread through the air. Therefore, wearing a mask helps reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Social distancing also helps reduce the risk of catching the virus from other individuals. The CDC recommends staying at least six feet away from other individuals. If you cannot maintain social distancing, the CDC recommends wearing a mask.
Frequently washing your hands is another way to stop the spread of the virus. It is recommended that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap. Hand sanitizers can be effective if you are unable to wash your hands.
If you feel sick, you should stay at home and contact your physician. People who experience trouble breathing, chest pain, and other emergency warning signs should seek emergency medical attention.
The CDC continues to update the list of COVID-19 symptoms. It has a self-checker available on its website for individuals to assess whether they may have the coronavirus.
Because you may need to isolate for two or more weeks, it can be helpful to have a COVID-19 emergency plan in place. You need to know how you will be able to get food, medication, and other needs if you are unable to leave home. Creating a plan with family members or friends can relieve a great deal of stress if you or a family member contracts COVID-19.