Bus drivers, teachers facing risk of getting COVID-19 at work

Coronavirus

MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Shadell Hamilton was a Miami-Dade County, Florida bus driver for nearly 30 years.

When the pandemic hit, his family says he was nervous to work, but had to stay on the job so he could feed his family.

He brought a backpack full of cleaning supplies with him on the bus every day.

“He had hand wipes. He had a face shield. Everything you could think of. Lysol. Hand sanitizer. Taking it all to work to ensure that he would be safe,” Hamilton’s daughter Lakeisha Stevenson said.

Despite taking all those precautions, on August 3rd Hamilton went into the hospital with COVID-19.

For more than a month he fought for his life but Hamilton lost the battle on Monday.

The 62-year-old’s last post on Facebook said, “If you have been blessed not to deal with COVID-19, thank God.”

Stevenson says her mother also contracted COVID-19. She was hospitalized but recovered. The family is now struggling to deal with Hamilton’s loss.

“He died doing what he loved. But we are picking up the pieces. And we are trying to figure out how to get through life beyond this because he was the pillar of our family without any question,” Stevenson said.

The Amalgamated Transit Unit, which represents bus drivers nationwide, says there have been 87 COVID-related deaths across the country.

The union does not track whether the virus was the primary cause of death.

“It is a very scary time to be a bus driver…as far as the PPE, it has gotten better. We are still not at the N95s. Many of our members had to get it themselves,” ATU President John Costa said.

Bus drivers are not the only front line workers dying with COVID-19.

According to the American Federation of Teachers, 210 teachers in the union have died with COVID-19.

Teachers who have died include Demi Bannister in Columbia, South Carolina, Nacoma James in Lafayette County, Mississippi, and Ashlee Demarinis in Potosi, Missouri.

“You could tell her anything. It was like a family member. You could talk to her about anything,” student Maddie Saunders said.

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