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MARTA records first employee death related to COVID-19, a station maintainer in Decatur

MARTA recorded its first death Monday related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By David Pendered

MARTA has confirmed its first death related to COVID-19, a 53-year-old station maintainer who died Monday. His last day of work was April 10. Four co-workers at MARTA’s Decatur Station were notified and instructed to self-quarantine.

MARTA recorded its first death Monday related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Derrick Ferguson had joined MARTA in 2016, MARTA said in a statement released Tuesday. Ferguson had worked as a station maintainer at MARTA’s Decatur Station and had been under medical care, according to a report MARTA maintains of it COVID-19 related employee status.

Ferguson’s last day of work was April 10 and he notified MARTA of a positive test on April 17, records show. He had been part of the MARTA family since 2016.

Jeffrey Parker, MARTA’s general manager and CEO, issued the following statement to the public:

  • “This insidious virus is taking an immense toll on transit agencies across the country. Despite the risks, brave employees such as Mr. Ferguson show up to work every day to make sure we can continue providing essential transit during this health crisis. We honor his dedication and extend our deepest condolences to his family.”

MARTA will provide a life insurance supplement of $5,000 to defray funeral expenses for any employee that dies as a result of COVID0-19, Parker’s statement continued.

The virus has taken its toll on MARTA employees – 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 124 employees who were deemed to have come in close contact.

The transit system has taken steps to protect employees and reduced service for the purposes of protecting employees and conserving resources during the decline in ridership.

The first case was reported March 22, according to the report posted on MARTA’s website.

Parker sent the following message to MARTA employees on Tuesday:

  • “Dear MARTA Family:
  • ”With a heavy heart, I write today to inform you of the passing of Mr. Derrick Ferguson, a MARTA station maintainer. Mr. Ferguson has been a member of the MARTA family since December 2016. Mr. Ferguson, 53 years old, passed away from complications related to COVID-19.
    “I have reached out to Mr. Ferguson’s daughter and nephew to relay our heartfelt condolences and offer our support for the Ferguson family. Mr. Ferguson’s partner, [name deleted by SaportaReport], also a MARTA employee, has also been diagnosed with COVID-19. She is recovering at home.
  • “Given the public health crisis and declared state of emergency in which our employees are operating, I have determined that MARTA will provide a life insurance supplement of $5,000 to defray funeral expenses for any employee that dies as a result of COVID-19. I have asked our Human Resources department to organize an online meeting through our Emergency Assistance Program where David Springstead and I can join Mr. Ferguson’s co-workers in remembering him.
  • “As of today, MARTA has 22 positive COVID-19 diagnoses. Of those employees, 3 have recovered, 3 are in the hospital and 15 are recovering at home. The complete dashboard can be found here.
  • “I appreciate the resilience and sense of purpose you show day after day. It is tough to be an essential worker in times like these, but we are on the job to make sure other frontline workers can get to theirs. Thank you.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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