Detroit Bus Driver Who Complained About Passenger Openly Coughing On Him In Viral Video Dies From COVID-19
His video is a warning for many city officials and transportation workers.
April 03, 2020 at 7:58 pm
Detroit, Michigan, Mayor Mike Duggan took time during his citywide address on Thursday to commemorate Jason Hargrove. Hargrove died on Wednesday from COVID-19 just one week after he spoke passionately on Facebook about a passenger who openly coughed in front of him on the city bus.
City transportation workers across the country have spent weeks expressing grave worries about their health and safety as the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim the lives of thousands. Public transportation employees in dozens of cities have complained that local governments are not doing enough to protect them from the virus as they continue to work amid the pandemic.
The crisis took a cruel turn for the worse in Detroit on Wednesday when Glenn Tolbert, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26, told news outlets that Hargrove died days after posting an alarming message to his followers about the danger he faced on a daily basis as a bus driver.
In the video, Hargrove called out a woman who got onto his bus and coughed in front of him multiple times without covering her mouth. He said he was feeling sick but still came to work, helping essential workers get across the city.
"For you to get on a bus ... and cough several times without covering up your mouth, and you know we in the middle of a pandemic, that lets me know that some folks don't care. Utterly don't give a f**k," Hargrove said.
"For a grown person in her late 50s, early 60s, to stand on a bus and cough four or five times without covering up your mouth and you know we're in the midst of a crisis with this coronavirus. I am pissed off," he added.
Hargrove went on to say that there were eight or nine people on the bus when she coughed but he didn't want to kick her off or say anything to her because he was worried he would come off as the "big angry bus driver." He reiterated that the situation reminded him of how some people aren't taking the virus seriously despite the rapidly rising death toll.
"I ain't blaming nobody but the woman that did that. For us to get through this and get over this, y'all need to take this serious. It's folks dying from this, dying out here because of this. I'm mad ... because that was uncalled for," Hargrove said.
"I kept my mouth closed, but at some point in time you have to draw the line and say enough is enough. That was uncalled for. I feel violated. I feel violated for the folks that was on the bus when this happened," he added.
Hargrove said he cleaned the bus down after the woman got off, but the instance highlighted the danger that city transportation workers are facing. The Detroit Free Press said transportation workers recently shut down the city's system because so many drivers called out sick. Even Tolbert, the union president, said he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Duggan said during his press conference that transportation workers were essential workers and were the key to transporting healthcare workers to hospitals.
"I don't know how you can watch it and not tear up. He knew his life was being put in jeopardy ... now he's gone. It's something I'm going to think about for a long time," Duggan said.
"It's something I'm going to think about for a long time."— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) April 3, 2020
Detroit mayor Mike Duggan spoke today, after Jason Hargrove's death, about safety measures for the city's bus drives being implemented too slowly, per @cferretti_dn: https://t.co/k9N6lH4sjF pic.twitter.com/etdtkIEbR0
Throughout his video, Hargrove repeatedly reminds people to take the virus seriously and follow guidelines released by health officials for the safety of themselves and others.
Despite the seriousness of the topic, Hargrove ended the video with a few hilarious jokes and a warm smile, but since his death, the video has become a haunting warning for many city transportation workers.
"We're out here, moving the city around. Disrespectful. They tell you every day, cough in your arm, sneeze in some tissue. People just aren't taking it seriously. I ain't blaming nobody but that woman. I got a job to do and I'm being professional about it but this is real," he said.