On Monday July 27, Steven Anthony Chang, a Tamarac resident, passed away from COVID-19 at the age of 61. Born in 1959, Mr. Chang was well-known and loved by the local Trinidad and Tobago community. He was born in Maraval, Trinidad and Tobago to John and Mildred Chang, the youngest of eight siblings.
Since 2012, Mr. Chang was a bus operator for Broward County Transit who fell ill at the end of June.
A Remarkably Simple and Humble Man
The Guyana Day U.S.A. Facebook page described him as “a remarkably simple and humble man who bubbled with energy, excitement, and a profound love for people. He was a people’s person and freely mixed with all, regardless of status, or creed. Because of his magnetic disposition, he was loved by all who came in contact with him…. As a community supporter, he was selflessly committed. He freely gave his time and resources, materials, and cash, without reservations, and shouldered responsibilities to ensure that everything was successful. Steven supported many community fundraisers. If he couldn’t attend personally, he sent whatever it took to make the fundraiser successful… his boundless joy was to get us to go to his home. He and his wife hosted us many times at his home, and when his residence became too small, he rented the community hall. He was happier than us. He was happy to be with us, to provide food, refreshments, and music.”
As of late May, according to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), more than 100 transit workers have died as a result of the virus, and an ATU survey found that “64% of public transit employers had no pandemic preparedness plan in place prior to the onset of COVID-19, and 50% of employers have not provided bus operators with basic personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves. In addition, 80% of transit agencies have cut or reduced service, making social distancing on vehicles impossible.”
Researching Transit Workers’ Health During the Pandemic
Occupational Health and Safety Online reports that the NYU School of Global Health and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 will “conduct joint research on the physical and mental health of transit workers in New York City during the coronavirus pandemic.” Given the transit operators’ frequent contact with the public, as well as working in enclosed spaces, transit workers are particularly susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
Miami-Dade Transit Workers Express Concerns
In late April, the Miami-Dade Transit Workers’ Union launched a “Ride Not Die” campaign, claiming that “After weeks of requesting resources for sanitation and safety protocols, our Miami-Dade County transportation workers have been forced to file litigation against Transit Director Alice Bravo for failure to fix the continuing life-threatening violations of safety protocols in the public transit system.”
The Miami Herald reported that a Miami-Dade county bus operator died after a COVID-19 diagnosis and noted that, in March, each driver had been issued one Clorox wipe to use throughout an entire shift.
Mourning at a Distance
The virus has made it difficult for family members to travel and/or attend funerals around the world. With social distancing required and limits on the number of people who can attend a gathering, many families are either unable to attend services or must limit those in attendance to immediate family.
Mr. Chang’s brother posted on his obituary: “My baby brother Steven this is so hard for us here in Trinidad, knowing I will not see or hear you again…”
Mr. Chang is also survived by his wife Maggie and daughter Anushka.
Below are Broward County Transit Guidelines for ridership; for more information, visit https://www.broward.org/BCT/Pages/default.aspx.