Omicron surge now affecting RTD service in Denver as workers become ill, call in sick

Vacancies in bus and rail operators, technicians also blamed for disruptions
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Posted at 3:30 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 17:30:25-05

DENVER – The surge in omicron cases of the novel coronavirus is not only negatively impacting hospitals, schools and even city council meetings and jury trials, it’s also now affecting the Regional Transportation District’s ability to move people across town.

Between Dec. 15 and Jan. 5, the agency reported 77 new employees across all facilities and operating divisions had tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are doing our best to maintain service within our existing resource constraints,” said RTD general manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson in a prepared statement. “While RTD’s Operations team is working as creatively as possible in its approach to covering open shifts, our ‘people power’ is being severely affected by the prevalence of the omicron coronavirus variant.”

It’s not only the coronavirus creating disruptions for RTD, according to a spokesperson. The agency said existing vacancies for frontline positions that include bus and rail operators, technicians and mechanics are also playing their part in the disruption to scheduled service.

“We know this situation creates difficulty for our customers, and we apologize for any inconvenience they are experiencing due to these circumstances that are beyond our control,” Johnson said.

Officials said RTD customers can stay updated on any unforeseen service changes by signing up for the agency’s Service Alerts, and reminded people interested in earning some cash that RTD is hiring, with some openings carrying a $4,000 hiring bonus.

Much like the rest of the world, cases of the omicron variant are exploding in Denver, with the seven-day incidence rate at 1,143.8 per 100,000 people as of Jan. 2.

Hospitalizations, which had been declining steadily over the past couple of weeks, are climbing again, with about 150 people currently hospitalized for the disease – a 34% increase from last week, according to COVID-19 data from the city.

Staying home if sick, physically distancing from each other, proper hand hygiene, and wearing a higher-quality, tight-fitting mask can all help cut your risk of getting infected with COVID-19 – even if you’re vaccinated and boosted, which health experts say continues to be the best tool in the fight against the pandemic.