The potential spread of the coronavirus to the United States is causing concern among the rideshare community. As drivers regularly interact with the public, a number of them are taking extra precautions to keep themselves and their passengers healthy.
Some rideshare drivers are receiving in-app messages from Uber urging drivers to protect themselves. If they feel sick, they’re asked to stay home. It’s also requested that drivers wash hands frequently, cover coughs or sneezes, and disinfect vehicles regularly.
One Uber driver, Lane Jensen, from Portland, Oregon, was interviewed by KOIN 6 news station regarding the potential spread of the virus. According to Jensen, he sanitizes his vehicle after every ride – which includes wiping down the seatbelt and car door handle. He estimates giving 10 to 20 rides per day; however, that could change if local schools and businesses start closing. He also expressed concerns regarding Uber and Lyft shutting down drivers is the virus is traced back to them. That’s why he’s taking extra precautions to keep his vehicle clean.
In addition to drivers taking precautions, rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have released statements regarding concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak. Uber is encouraging drivers and riders to follow the guidance of local authorities to prevent spreading the virus. According to a spokesperson from the company, Uber is in close contact with local public health organizations and plans to follow all recommendations. The company has also formed a dedicated global team of Uber operations and security and safety executives to respond appropriately as the situation changes. Lyft is also monitoring the situation closely. While they believe there are no indications of a unique risk to the Lyft community, they have established an internal task force in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines.
It has yet to be seen how the spread of the virus could affect the ride-hailing industry in the United States. While there’s a chance fewer people could request rides, there’s also the possibility of some drivers being requested more often. When China began locking down cities, the demand for food delivery drivers skyrocketed as people stuck inside their homes began placing orders. In fact, the app Meituan experienced a shortage of workers and began experimenting with their driverless vehicle fleet.
Regardless of the course the virus takes, rideshare companies plan to continue following public health organization guidelines. Drivers should regularly check for updates regarding precautions and recommendations.