Precautions for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Autumn Soliman

UPDATED 8/11/2020 - As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (MTD) is taking several steps to better protect all passengers and employees. MTD understands and takes seriously concerns about safety in public spaces, and as a result, we have implemented several additional measures and protocols. MTD has followed, and will continue to follow, State and Federal guidelines and will continue to evolve alongside recommendations from the CDC and our local Public Health District.

A more robust sanitization process for our fleet began in early March and has continued throughout the Summer, and will continue into Fall 2020.

Our vehicles are cleaned every day, and as a precaution, we are using a deep cleaning procedure to disinfect our vehicles using electrostatic sprayers. The sprayers use medical-grade Husky 814 Q/T Tuberculocidal disinfectant solution (EPA-Registered #1839-83 - Approved for Use Against COVID-19) to eliminate everything, from tuberculosis to coronavirus, on treated surfaces. These sprayers emit the solution with a static electric charge, which allows it to adhere to everything, including cracks and crevices throughout the vehicle’s interior.

With the start of UI service on August 21, these electrostatic sprayers will be used to fully sanitize MTD’s entire fleet nightly. Pit Crews are being assigned to our transfer points and other locations in the community to disinfect high-touch surfaces, like door handles and stanchions, throughout each day dependent upon staffing resources. 

Vans for ADA Paratransit, demand response services (like SafeRides), C-CARTS (rural, county-wide), and the University’s Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES) have been on a more rigorous daily sanitation schedule from the outset, because these services tend to transport more vulnerable populations, including elderly riders, people with weakened immune systems, and those with underlying health conditions.

MTD's frontline employees are provided with individual bottles of hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are unavailable, because hand washing is the first line of defense recommended by the CDC.

To prepare for increased passenger ridership, MTD has purchased and is installing hand sanitizer dispensers on each of our buses and all of our vans, which provide ADA Paratransit, demand response services, and C-CARTS. Our 30- and 40-foot buses will have one dispenser on each vehicle, and our 60-foot articulated buses will have two dispensers.

MTD employees have been issued a set of cloth face coverings, with restock available, and are expected to wear a mask or face covering when boarding passengers through the front door, when passengers are within six feet of the driver’s seat, or while securing a mobility device.

MTD is regularly updating and adding to our external and internal signage on our vehicles illustrating current rear-door boarding procedures and the expectation to wear a mask. Unmasked passengers boarding our buses or entering MTD’s Illinois Terminal are asked to wear a mask/face covering, and if they do not have one, MTD employees are providing individually bagged masks for customers.

MTD is investing resources in providing masks to our employees and the public, as well as educating our passengers through several channels, including onboard the bus and inside our facilities. Supervisory Staff are also providing support and follow up seven days a week, across all shifts.

MTD’s Illinois Terminal has increased frequency of disinfecting surfaces using BNC-15, an EPA-registered product tested and proven to eliminate everything, from tuberculosis to coronavirus, on treated surfaces. All surfaces are disinfected a minimum of two times per shift, and high usage areas and surfaces are disinfected a minimum of four times per shift. This includes our first-floor passenger waiting area, which is utilized by passengers taking MTD as well as intercity buses like Burlington Trailways, Danville Mass Transit, and Greyhound, as well as the second-floor passenger area for Amtrak.

Illinois Terminal employees are also monitoring guest areas and disinfecting particular locations if someone is seen exhibiting symptoms, like coughing or sneezing. Touch free hand sanitizer dispensers are placed in all guest areas and are readily accessible.

Illinois Terminal also has an electrostatic sprayer to disinfect large areas. These areas, including guest seating, are disinfected nightly using the electrostatic device. Illinois Terminal Staff are in close and regular coordination with our tenants to address concerns and accommodate service changes.

Along with the temporary implementation of rear door boarding, which began on Wednesday, March 25, MTD’s responses have also included:

  • Suspension of fare collection and pass validation to eliminate direct exchange of cash, transfers, or reviewing passenger cards
  • Reduced service to account for the University of Illinois’ reduced in-person instruction and local school cancellations
  • Larger vehicles employed to allow space for social distancing on board
  • Additional buses placed around the community for backup to prevent capacity issues

MTD will continue to follow the advice given by public health officials, and we ask our passengers to do the same:

Protecting yourself

  • Clean your hands often - wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public settings.

Protecting others

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
    • Call your doctor or nurse hotline to determine if in-person care is needed to avoid overwhelming our local health care facilities.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes.
    • Throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands immediately after.
    • Wear masks or face coverings in public.
    • Continue to keep 6 feet between yourself and others. A mask is not a substitute for social distancing.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Take steps to help medical personnel

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends wearing masks or face coverings in public. These masks should not be N-95 respirators, as medical equipment must be reserved for healthcare use only.
  • If you are sick, an initial phone consultation with your doctor’s office may help prevent the spread of illness, and also alleviate congestion in medical facilities. 
  • While there is currently no vaccination against COVID-19, if you have not had a flu or pneumonia shot, you can still get one to protect yourself from other illnesses. Preventing the flu and pneumonia can help medical facilities avoid overcrowding.

Preparing your household

  • Refill prescription medications in case your household falls under quarantine. Call your doctor to see if a three-month prescription can be ordered.
  • Prepare to stay in your home for two weeks or more, with critical items including food, hygiene items, over-the-counter medication, and pet supplies.
  • Stay up to date with information and guidelines from public officials.

Resources

Originally published March 11, 2020