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Some bus drivers pleading with King County Metro to offer more protection from coronavirus

Metro is giving its frontline staff two cloth face masks to use while on the job, but some drivers say more needs to be done to protect them from coronavirus.

SEATTLE — In an open letter to King County Councilmembers last week, drivers and operators for Metro Transit pleaded for better safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter asked for transparency on which Metro employees are contracting the virus (Metro has said it would not publicly disclose employees who test positive), hazard pay for transit workers serving in harm's way, and enhanced cleaning of buses. It also asked for more personal protective equipment for operators when assisting riders with disabilities where social distancing isn’t practical.

There is also a change.org petition in support of the drivers and operators with more than 2,000 signatures as of Saturday.

In March, King County Metro showed KING 5 how they sanitize and clean the buses and the enhancements they made as the virus began to spread through the state.

Metro said it takes about two minutes for them to completely spray down the buses.

RELATED: Cleaning ramps up on buses in response to coronavirus outbreak

But in the weeks since, drivers have reached out to KING 5 anonymously to say what’s being done isn’t enough.

One driver, who didn't want to identify themselves, claimed the late-night bus routes are full of "non-destinational riders" and many of them aren't wearing masks. 

Metro noted on its blog that it encourages all riders to practice safe social distancing when riding their buses.

Last Saturday, Metro announced each of the 4,100 frontline transit staff will be given two washable cloth masks to wear while on the job.

The blog post noted the masks will not eliminate the risk of catching the virus, and said the masks should complement, not replace other guidance related to personal hygiene and safety. 

RELATED: How US guidance on wearing masks during coronavirus outbreak has evolved