Trinity Metro bus operators, railcar engineers and conductors can now join first responders in getting tested for COVID-19 at an off-campus test site operated by The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC).

Trinity Metro operates buses, TEXRail, ZIPZONE services, ACCESS paratransit, vanpools and Trinity Railway Express (TRE), providing 8 million passenger trips annually. Its transportation services are essential to many Tarrant County residents who rely on Trinity Metro for access to health care, food and medicine, as well as many first responders and other essential workers who depend on Trinity Metro to get to work.

“Trinity Metro is a critical part of the mass transit system that continues to get essential workers to their jobs and ensure people have access to important services, such as health care and grocery stores,” HSC Fort Worth President Michael R. Williams said. “Trinity Metro team members interact with people on a daily basis, and this expansion of our test site will help further reduce transmission of this disease.”

Trinity Metro has already taken steps to prevent transmission of COVID-19, minimizing contact between employees and passengers by offering free rides on regular bus routes, ACCESS and TEXRail. It also has increased the cleaning and sanitization frequency of high-touch surfaces on trains, buses and vans.

“Partnering with HSC for testing of our frontline employees is a great option,” said Charles Davis Jr., Vice President of Teamsters Local 997. “Our operators are committed to providing vital services during this health crisis. Knowing that we have access to timely testing is a tremendous benefit for our team.”

The drive-through testing site is a partnership that includes HSC, Catalyst Health Network, the Fort Worth Fire Department and the Moncrief Cancer Institute. It opened March 23 to first responders, such as police, fire, emergency medical technicians, sheriff’s officers, paramedics and constables.

The testing site is intended to keep first responders informed of their health status, and to allow those who test negative to return to their jobs rather than wait out the 14-day self-observation period after a possible exposure.

An Infection Disease Coordinator at the Joint Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the City of Fort Worth is the primary point of contact for first responders. The coordinator will conduct an environmental and clinical assessment to determine if COVID testing is warranted. If so, the responder will be contacted by HSC within 24 to 48 hours to schedule the test.

As of March 31, 166 first responders have been tested for COVID-19 at the site, said Dr. Mark Chassay, HSC Chief Clinical & Medical Officer.

“Thanks to our partners and the extraordinary dedication of our healthcare team, we have been able to help many of our first responders concerned about their health,” Dr. Chassay said. “We’re proud to now offer testing to our friends at Trinity Metro, who continue to provide their valuable services to the community during this challenging time.”

This article originally appeared in the UNTHSC Newsroom.

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