Lee County school bus driver battles COVID-19 in hospital

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Jay Figueroa. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

A wife fears she’ll lose her husband to the coronavirus and prays he makes a healthy return home.

Jay Figueroa is a bus driver for The School District of Lee County, and he was fighting COVID-19 in the hospital Monday.

Wife Sandra Figueroa thinks her husband contracted the virus on the job.

“He’s like a big guy,” Figueroa said. “He comes from New Jersey, New York.”

And he has a big heart.

“He liked doing the problem kids because he could connect with them,” Sandra said. “And kind of, you know, uplift them. He always gave out lollipops. Everybody loved him.”

That love came from the students riding bus 2933. Figueroa was the driver getting them to and from school every day, but that could have put him at risk.

“Oh, he definitely caught it on the bus around all the kids,” Figueroa said. “I mean, we’ve been together for 30 years. I’ve been working with COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. I am extremely careful.”

Sandra is a respiratory therapist. She’s seen it all when it comes to COVID-19.

Now, she’s seeing it all happen to her one love.

“He’s not making any improvement, really,” Sandra said. “And he’s getting tired out, and the only other step is intubation. If he gets intubated then people don’t come off the ventilators … I see that every day.”

But it’s not every day you see someone as dedicated to the job as Jay Figueroa.

“I’m like just, ‘Quit. Just don’t go to work. Like we don’t need the 16 bucks an hour. Like, it’s not worth it,'” Sandra said. “But he’s a loyal employee.”

Figueroa has been in the hospital since Saturday fighting for his life. All his wife can do is prepare for the worst.

“If they don’t say you don’t have to wear masks, well, that just killed my husband, very likely,” Sandra said.

Figueroa’s family confirmed he has not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

The District says it still needs bus drivers — at least 100. It says the District has lost as many as it has gained.

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