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Tulsa Transit Shelves Vaccination Or Testing Policy For Employees

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With news earlier this month President Joe Biden will require many employers to test their unvaccinated workers for COVID-19 weekly, Tulsa Transit is holding off on its own policy on vaccination or testing.

The idea came up last month to possibly push more Tulsa Transit employees to get vaccinated. Only about 50% are.

General Manager Ted Rieck told the transit board this week they would wait to see what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that Biden ordered to write the rules comes up with.

"We don't know what the rules are, and the agency we work with at the federal level, the Federal Transit Administration, they're kind of waiting around as well. Because whatever we do, it will affect the entire industry," Rieck said.

In the meantime, Tulsa Transit will continue doing what it can to protect drivers from COVID, including enhanced cleaning of buses, requiring drivers and passengers to wear masks, and leaving in place Plexiglass shields around the driver’s seat. The agency has recently seen an uptick in absences, making it difficult to maintain current service levels.

"So, we're doing as much as we can to keep everybody safe, but when a driver goes home, if they don't wear a mask and they hang out with people who are not vaccinated, we don't control that," Rieck said.

Rieck told the transit board that based on Tulsa Housing Authority employees’ response to a vaccination requirement from that agency, he fears Tulsa Transit could lose up to 10% of its front-line workers, including bus drivers, if it implements a mandate. Rieck said letting the feds issue a mandate could have less of an impact, but the board has asked for a policy it can review in October if those rules still don’t exist.

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