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E-scooter companies respond to COVID-19 by halting rides, reducing fleet and increasing disinfecting

Injuries prompt CDC investigation into e-scooters
Posted at 7:43 AM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 23:20:11-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- As the City of Tampa readies for a stay-at-home-order, residents will still be allowed to leave the house for essential services — like going to the grocery store.

RELATED: Mayor Castor continues push for stay-at-home order, hoping to enact it Wednesday

But I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern found questions about the safety of some of the city’s shared transportation options.

Electric scooters are a popular way of getting around town in Tampa. But the very thing that makes them convenient — is also a concern for spreading the coronavirus.

I-TEAM INVESTIGATIONS | The latest investigations from our I-Team

Riders can grab a scooter and drop it off at their destination until the next rider comes along to pick that same scooter up. But those exchanges, holding on to the same handlebars, could provide another opportunity for COVID-19 to spread.

Because of that, the I-Team found out Lime is currently suspending its service during the pandemic. The company is not only pausing operations in Tampa but across all U.S. and European markets.

Tampa’s transportation director, Vik Bhide, told the I-Team the city contacted all four e-scooter companies last week, asking for their plans.

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF CORONAVIRUS

“They’re taking extra measures to sanitize their equipment multiple times a day,” said Bhide.

A Bird spokesperson told the I-Team it is temporarily reducing its fleet in Tampa “to help discourage non-critical mobility during this time and to help flatten the COVID-19 curve.”

Jump said it's cleaning and disinfecting its scooters more frequently. So is the company Spin. Plus, Spin is providing its employees with cleaning supplies and gloves to handle the scooters.

This story started with a tip. If you have something you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email kylie.mcgivern@wfts.com.