RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A GRTC bus driver who contracted COVID-19 last month is fighting for his life, relying on a ventilator to breathe.
John Thrower Jr. is 49-years-old and has hit a medical downward spiral since contracting the virus.
Tracey Thrower, John’s wife, shared with 8News that her husband has been on a ventilator for six days now and has suffered numerous medical complications including a minor heart attack, kidney failure which required dialysis, and high blood pressure.
Tracey says her husband’s only underlying condition was diabetes before being admitted to the hospital.
John Thrower has spent the last seven years of his life driving buses for GRTC. Passengers always noticed his big smile, however, things took a drastic turn in August.
“It’s hard for me,” Tracey said. “I have not talked to my husband, I can’t go see him and he’s fighting for his life.”
Tracey says she believes her husband caught the virus on the job. She went on to say that John was working for fourteen days straight, came home on August 15 with a cough and the next day he had a high fever. The two rushed to the hospital, where John was immediately admitted and tested for COVID-19.
His results came back positive with his condition getting progressively worse.
“He’s on a ventilator now and has been for the last 6 days,” Tracey said. “The only thing doctors would tell me is that he might die.”
Tracey says her husband is a dedicated employee, however, he and other drivers are afraid to get behind the wheel during the pandemic.
She says her husband shared that some passengers refuse to wear masks or are taking them off once they get on the bus. Tracey tells 8News her husband had to stop the bus on one occasion because a passenger would not comply.
“I need people to wake-up,” cried Tracey. “This is not a hoax, this is a pandemic and people are dying every day.”
Tracey goes on to say that riders are not practicing social distancing and buses are crowded because fare was suspended during the pandemic.
“It’s about protecting these drivers, they’re our families,” Tracey added. “My husband is fighting for his life right now and that’s unfair. No one from GRTC–other than the other drivers and their wives–have called to ask about my husband. They shouldn’t have to bring this home to their families.”
Tracey contracted the virus from her husband, but she says she is OK.
She says GRTC is a great company to work for and she’s grateful for the protocols already in place, however, she wants to see the rules enforced more.
A GRTC spokesperson says passengers are required to wear face coverings, 50,000 masks were distributed to staff members along with hand sanitizer, and drivers have the right to stop the bus if someone is not wearing a mask.
“Our operators, mechanics, cleaners and supervisors are all heroes working right now to provide critical service to our community. Transit workers are always quietly working for the good of our neighbors, especially now and with so many safety measures in place. I don’t want their heroic efforts to be forgotten”Statement from GRTC spokesperson Carrie Rose Pace.
Online records show the transit company has had 20 confirmed staff cases to date; 18 people have recovered and two cases remain active.