Wear a Face Mask sign on Metro bus during coronavirus outbreak

An L.A. County supervisor urged Metro today to require face coverings for everyone riding buses and trains, in order to protect drivers and passengers from the coronavirus.

Supervisor Janice Hahn, who along with the other four county supervisors holds a seat on the 13-member Metro board, wrote a letter to CEO Phil Washington.

"Given what we know about the COVID-19 virus, the policy of not requiring face coverings puts both Metro passengers and bus drivers at risk," Hahn wrote.

She said her outreach was spurred by a Los Angeles Times article offering accounts of Metro bus drivers fearful about their health and that of their passengers. The transit agency has confirmed 42 COVID-19 cases among workers, including 15 bus drivers and seven maintenance employees, the Times reported.

An existing public health order requires customers to wear face coverings at grocery and drug stores and other essential businesses. However, Metro has given bus drivers the responsibility to decide whether to allow passengers on board without masks or scarves covering their faces.

"Because so many other essential workers, from grocery store employees to restaurant workers, rely on Metro to get to and from work, Metro's decision not to require face coverings threatens to compound the spread of this virus across our county," Hahn wrote.

Hahn asked Washington to take action immediately rather than waiting for the board's next meeting, set for May 28.

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