The panic around coronavirus has been historic. As of the writing of this blog post, the stock market has officially entered a “bear market,” which occurs when securities prices fall 20% or more from recent highs. Universities across the country have closed for the semester, conferences are canceled, and local governments are banning large public gatherings.
So what are the implications for the transportation industry? The economic impact isn’t clear, and will vary by carrier type. With decreased economic activity, less goods need to be moved around the country. At the same time, however, food and other essential goods distributors may see a huge spike in demand.
But most concerning are the health effects of coronavirus on the trucking industry are very clear, and they are grim. While coronavirus’s overall fatality rate is estimated to be about 2%, this rate significantly increases to anywhere between 3.6% – 14.8% depending on the affected population.
With the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating the average age of truck drivers to be 55-years-old, a large percentage of our drivers are at risk.
Fleets need to prepare their operations and their drivers for coronavirus. Though uncertainty is high with any new disease, there are certain safety-practices we know are effective that you can share with your drivers.
The CDC Recommends Six Steps to Stay Safe
To protect yourself and your drivers, the CDC recommends:
- Clean Your Hands Often
Advise your drivers to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after sneezing, coughing, or entering a public space. If hand soap is not available (as it often may not be in-cab), a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is recommended.
- Avoid Close Contact
Drivers should avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. As coronavirus symptoms are hard to distinguish from those of the flu, caution should be taken around any kind of illness at rest stops or docks.
To protect others, the CDC recommends:
- Stay Home If You Are Sick
You should send drivers home if they’re sick. Advise them to remain home except to get medical care and share with them the CDC’s list of additional steps to take while home if you worry you may have coronavirus.
- Cover Coughs and Sneezes
Drivers need to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, or use the inside of their elbow. They should immediately wash their hands after.
- Wear A Facemask
Drivers should wear a facemask when in public spaces, especially if in close quarters with other people. Masks can even be fashioned from tee shirts, as the Surgeon General demonstrates here.
- Clean and Disinfect All Surfaces
Drivers should use hand wipes to clean commonly touched surfaces, such as their dashboards or the seats of their vehicles. When at a rest stop, they should wipe down their table before eating or placing hands on it.
Download below the Six Steps to Stay Safe to share with your drivers:
Most Importantly, Know The Symptoms and Get Tested
Despite being orders of magnitude more deadly than the flu, the coronavirus has very similar symptoms that drivers need to be aware of:
Additionally, despite how deadly the virus is, the vast majority of people who have it experience only mild symptoms:
But just because the symptoms are mild does not mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously. Fleets must make sure their drivers understand the symptoms and immediately seek testing, regardless of how severe their case is. Customers do not want to work with fleets who allow potentially infected drivers to handle their cargo.
Idelic deeply cares about the health and safety of everyone in the trucking community. We strongly urge fleets to follow guidelines prescribed by the CDC or WHO. We hope everyone stays safe during this difficult time and that fleets approach this situation with the utmost precaution.