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What PDX, TriMet and others are doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Here’s a look at how travel organizations in Oregon are helping protect customers and staff from the spread of COVID-19.
Credit: TriMet
TriMet staff uses disinfectant spray on MAX trains. This cleaning is happening nightly, according to TriMet.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Coronavirus is now a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization, which means COVID-19 has now spread to half the world's countries.

The U.S. has reached 1,000 coronavirus cases and 31 deaths. In Oregon, there are 19 cases of COVID-19.

Many people have questions about travel and the spread of coronavirus. Many still must fly on airplanes, or commute on trains, buses, ride shares or cabs. What is being done to protect those travelers and commuters from the spread of coronavirus?

Here's a look at how travel organizations in Oregon are helping protect customers and staff:

Portland International Airport / Port of Portland

Starting March 2, the Port of Portland increased the frequency of cleaning in the terminal and at its marine facilities as well.

The Port said it's following the cleaning and disinfection protocols from Multnomah County and the CDC. It has increased cleaning of the airport’s parking pay stations, shuttle buses, valet booth and information booths.

The Port is providing hand sanitizer in the taxi and rideshare hold lot for its ground transportation providers.

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Many tenants of the airport are increasing surface cleaning and providing hand sanitizer to customers and staff. Starbucks announced it will serve coffee only in its own single-use cups to help stop the spread of germs, and will no longer fill re-usable mugs.

Learn more here


TriMet staff is cleaning TriMet buses using disinfectant wipes and MAX trains using disinfectant spray every night. The same level of cleaning is happening nightly on WES trains and LIFT vehicles, according to a TriMet spokesperson.

This cleaning, in addition to TriMet's regular cleaning procedures, includes an increased focus on touchpoint surfaces, including poles, doors and other surfaces people will touch or hold onto while traveling.

RELATED: ‘It’s happening quite rapidly’: PDX sees drop in passengers, more reductions expected

TriMet said it updates its employees numerous times each week with the latest information from health authorities about COVID-19, and posts information on posters and digital displays throughout its facilities.

"We are attempting to get hand sanitizer for our operators and field staff, and sanitizing wipes for operators to wipe down the steering wheel/controls and other shared workspace areas, but as I’m sure you know those supplies are hard to come by, so we continue to promote handwashing whenever possible," said TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt.

TriMet said to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, commuters using TriMet buses or trains should practice "social distancing," which means maintaining 3 feet of distance between people.

Learn more here

Greyhound buses

Greyhound said it has stepped up its cleaning processes. “We’ve enhanced the sanitation procedures on our buses and in our privately owned terminals,” the company website says. “While it’s always been our policy to thoroughly clean our buses after each trip, we’re taking it up a notch by enhancing cleaning efforts in our most frequently used areas such as handrails, door handles, overhead bins and restrooms.”

Learn more here


“We are always working to help keep everyone who uses Uber safe,” a company spokesperson told KGW. “We have a dedicated global team, guided by the advice of a consulting public health expert, working to respond in every market where we operate around the world. We remain in close contact with local public health authorities and will continue to follow their guidance to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

Twice in the past month, including most recently on Tuesday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has sent information and guidance to riders and drivers as well as Uber Eats customers and delivery people.

RELATED: Airlines could lose $113 billion in coronavirus outbreak

The company is working to provide drivers with disinfectants to help them keep their cars clean. An Uber spokesman said because supplies are limited, they’re prioritizing the distribution of disinfectants to drivers in the cities with the greatest need. “We will have more information on distribution soon,” an Uber spokesperson said when asked if Portland is considered to be one of the cities with the greatest need.

Uber may temporarily suspend the accounts of riders or drivers who are confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. Uber said it will provide financial assistance for up to 14 days to any driver or delivery person diagnosed with COVID-19 while their account is on hold.

Uber Eats customers can leave a note in the app to ask their delivery person to leave the food at the door.

Learn more here


Like Uber, Lyft said it will temporarily suspend a rider or driver from using Lyft if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19. The suspension will be lifted once the rider or driver is medically cleared.

If a driver is diagnosed with COVID-19 and put under quarantine by a health agency, Lyft will provide funds to that driver for an undisclosed amount of time.

Lyft has partnered with EO Products to distribute more than 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies to drivers. This will be done at no cost to drivers.

Learn more here


A spokesperson for Radio Cab said they've given all their drivers strong disinfectant wipes and instructed them to wipe down their cabs at the beginning and end of every shift, if not more frequently.

"We are also encouraging them to do more between rides to disinfect the cab for the next passenger," said Darin Campbell. "Because we transport the medically fragile this is a responsibility we do not take lightly."

Campbell said in dispatch and employee areas, they're asking that keyboards, screens and chairs get disinfected at the beginning and end of each shift. He also said they're asking any employee who feels sick to stay at home.

KGW reached out to Broadway Taxi, another of the largest taxi companies in the Portland area, but is still waiting to hear back.

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In Oregon, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low, according to officials. At KGW, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: kgw.com/FactsNotFear

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