What to Know
- Lakeisha Snipes, a Miami-Dade Transit bus driver, died of COVID-19 after weeks of being hospitalized
- Her family claims Snipes contracted the virus while on the job and that she did everything she could to prevent it
- Miami-Dade Transit said they've been implementing safety measures since late February
After weeks in the hospital, a Miami-Dade bus driver died from coronavirus -- which her family says she got during the job.
Lakeisha Snipes' worst fear became her reality. The public bus driver knew she was high-risk if she contracted COVID-19. After developing symptoms and spending nearly two weeks at the hospital, she passed away.
"It’s really heartbreaking for all of us," said Kim Cox, Snipes' cousin. "We really don’t know what her final days were. She was worried because she knew she had underlying health issues."
Cox said Snipes did everything possible to prevent getting the virus, including taking a leave of absence for about two months from Miami-Dade Transit. According to Cox, her employer called her to return to work in June.
"She wanted to secure her job. She bought a house not too long ago, she had responsibilities. So she put her health aside to do her duty. She was a really good employee," Cox said.
Snipes' family says she definitely contracted COVID-19 while on the job. They feel Miami-Dade Transit should have done more to protect her.
According to the Transport Workers Union, "Despite (their) repeated requests in private, as well as in public, the county has yet to provide the fundamental resources that our 'essential' workers, as they have been deemed by the county itself, have needed to be protected from further spread of COVID-19."
Miami-Dade Transit officials say they’ve implemented safety measures since late February, including requiring bus riders to board through the rear entrance.
"If you’re going to put policies in place, you have to have things to reinforce those policies," Cox said.
“It is with profound sadness that the Department of Transportation and Public Works mourns the loss of one of our very own front-line workers," DTPW said in a statement. "This employee had been on approved leave between March and May and did work two weeks in June. We were advised this person tested positive for COVID-19 late June. We are devastated by this passing. Our hearts are heavy as we extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of one of our DTPW employees."
They added that Snipes had leave time available as well as other options -- DPTW says employees over the age of 65 or with underlying medical conditions were offered to stay at home with pay or to work from home.
Other safety measures the DTPW said they have been implementing are installing polycarbonate panels to the bus driver enclosures, distributing supplies such as hand sanitizer and KN95 masks, and adjusted service, among others.