A bus driver in Detroit who died after contracting the coronavirus just weeks earlier had posted a video complaining about a passenger who he said refused to cover her mouth while coughing.
Mayor Mike Duggan and the Amalgamated Transit Union confirmed the death of Jason Hargrove on Thursday.
At a press conference to give an update on the coronavirus, Duggan said Hargrove’s death “hit close to home.”
“He knew his life was being put in jeopardy, even though he was going to work for the citizens of Detroit every day, by somebody who just didn’t care. By somebody who didn’t take this seriously,” the mayor said. “And now he’s gone.”
In a Facebook Live video on March 21, Hargrove said he was angry after a woman got on the bus and coughed several times 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. 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 that we in the middle of a pandemic, that lets me know that some folks don’t care,” he said.
Hargrove urged people to take the coronavirus seriously and to stay home if you don’t need to go out.
“It’s folks dying out here. I’m mad right about now because that s— was uncalled for. And I’m trying to be the professional that they want me to be, so I kept my mouth closed,” he said in his video. “I feel violated. I feel violated for the folks that were on the bus when this happened.”
His Facebook Live video has since been shared thousands of times, with many of the commenters expressing their sadness over his death.
Mayor Duggan urged people to watch Hargrove’s video and said the driver’s death should “touch everybody in the city of Detroit, should touch everybody in the country.”
“Some of his language is graphic, but I don’t know how you can watch it and not tear up,” he said at his press conference.
Michigan has seen a dramatic increase in the number of coronavirus cases over the last week, with a majority of them heavily concentrated in Detroit and its suburbs. As of Friday morning, there were more 2,860 cases and 97 deaths in the city, according to a Detroit Health Department website.
On March 17, days before Hargrove posted his video, bus drivers in the city stopped working because they did not feel enough was being done to protect them. As a result, the mayor ordered passengers to only enter and leave buses through the back door and halted fares.
The Detroit Department of Transportation said it also banned riders from sitting directly behind the driver.
“As Jason’s haunting video makes clear, we need for all members of the public to respect our drivers and avoid public transportation if they are not feeling well,” the department said in a statement, calling his death devastating.
“If you are on a bus and do have to cough, keep a safe distance and please cover your mouth. We are working closely with Jason’s family to support them and with our employees to ensure they have the resources they need during this unprecedented time.”
According to the Amalgamated Transit Union, Hargrove had worked for the Detroit Department of Transportation since 2016. He leaves behind a wife, the union said.