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Detroit Bus Driver Dies from Coronavirus Days After Complaining About Passenger Coughing

A Detroit bus driver, who voiced his concern about a passenger openly coughing on his bus amid the coronavirus pandemic, has sadly died after contracting the illness.

Jason Hargrove was unable to stop working during the pandemic because of the essential services he provided to his city. But the driver, 50, said in a recent Facebook video that he worried about his health on the job, especially after picking up a passenger who was coughing without covering her mouth.

“We out here as public workers, doing our job, trying to make an honest living to take care of our families,” he said in the March 21 video. “But for you to get on the bus and stand on the bus and cough several times without covering up your mouth — and you know we’re in the middle of a pandemic — that lets me know that some folks don’t care.”

Hargrove went on to complain about the female rider, who he claimed was in her late 50s or early 60s, and how she knowingly put him and the other eight passengers on board at risk.

“To stand on the bus and cough four or five times without covering her mouth… that was disrespectful. We ain’t talking about no teenagers, we talking about a grown-ass woman that did this,” he argued in the clip.

“I feel violated, I feel violated for the folks that were on the bus when this happened,” Hargrove continued. “I am pissed the f— off. I ain’t blaming nobody but the woman who did that s—.”

WARNING: Video below contains explicit language.

The driver noted that he managed to stay “professional” on the bus, but couldn’t help but rant about the encounter once his shift had ended. He also called on others to take the virus seriously, which he felt many weren’t doing.

“I’m mad right about now because that s— was uncalled for. I’m trying to be the professional that they want me to be, I kept my mouth closed… but there’s some point in time that you gotta draw the line and say enough is enough,” he said.

“For us to get through this and get over this, man, y’all need to take this s— serious,” Hargrove added. “There’s folks dying out here from this.”

Unfortunately, his complaints seemed to be a precursor to his own fate.

On March 25, just four days after his Facebook rant, Hargrove became ill, according to The Detroit News. A week later, Glenn Tolbert, the head of the city’s bus driver union, confirmed to the outlet that Hargrove had died from COVID-19.

While it is unclear if Hargrove contracted the illness from the specific passenger that he referenced in the video, his death has impacted many of his colleagues, as well as city officials.

“They’re obviously scared,” Tolbert told The Detroit News of the city’s other bus drivers, who have been practicing safety measures such as entering through the rear doors and enforcing a 10-foot distance from each other since March 18.

“They’re up in arms. It’s the fear of the unknown,” added Tolbert.

Mayor Mike Duggan also spoke out on Thursday afternoon at press conference and admitted he was regretful that he didn’t implement those safety measures earlier, which could have potentially prevented Hargrove’s death.

“If you haven’t seen Jason Hargrove’s post on Facebook, everybody in Detroit and everybody in America should watch it,” he said. “He was infected before we closed the front doors. Some of his language is graphic, but 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.”

“Mr. Hargrove posted about his health and safety concerns before the front doors on buses were shut to boost safety measures, and it’s something I’m going to think about for a long time,” Duggan continued.

In addition to expressing his sadness over Hargrove’s death on Thursday, Duggan announced that Detroit would become the first city in the nation to provide rapid COVID-19 testing kits for first responders, bus drivers, and health-care workers, The Washington Post reported.

So far, 106 Detroit Police Department employees, 24 Detroit Fire Department employees, and eight Detroit Department of Transportation employees have tested positive for COVID-19, Duggan said according to Fox affiliate WJBK.

As of Friday afternoon, there have been at least 258,611 cases and 6,660 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. In Michigan, over 10,791 cases have been reported with at least 417 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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