CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — The region’s mass transit systems are taking action against a possible coronavirus outbreak. Health officials say large agencies like PATCO need to be prepared if a coronavirus pandemic comes to our area.
When it comes to sharing close quarters with strangers, there are few places more intimate than mass transit. That’s why officials with the PATCO High Speedline say they’re closely monitoring the coronavirus, or COVID-19.READ MORE: 6 Pedestrians Hit By Driver While Leaving Chester Church, Police Say
“Right now, there is no alarm, there is no reason for people to be alarmed,” PATCO President John Hanson said.
Hanson says they are taking several actions now, including going over pandemic response playbooks, acquiring extra masks, gloves and cleaning products for employees and setting up possible warnings for riders on variable message boards, phone alerts and social media.
“Right now, we’re getting the messaging ready in case we need it. We’re not really deploying a lot of it yet,” Hanson said. “And we’re looking at our plans — continuity of operation, emergency operations and the national strategy for pandemics.”READ MORE: 21-Year-Old Dead, 2 Injured During Saturday Night Shootings Across Philadelphia
Health experts say a new case of COVID-19 in California that doesn’t appear linked to travel is deeply concerning.
“This may be the harbinger for further spread person-to-person within the United States, which is the concern,” said Dr. Annette Reboli, dean of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.
Reboli has a background in infectious disease. She says as transportation, school and health systems prepare for the possible spread of coronavirus, they need to focus on these key principles: Giving employees safety training and equipment, handling sick patients and keeping facilities clean.
“It’s important to have readiness,” she said.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Kicks Off First Parade Celebrating All Winter Holidays Following First Omicron COVID Case
The New Jersey Department of Health has told local school districts to prepare a learn-from-home strategy in case many students are out should the coronavirus spread to our area.