According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 Coronavirus is confirmed to have infected 209,839 people and killed 8,778 people worldwide. So far, the virus appears to be more dangerous for people who have pre-existing health conditions and people who are older. Coupled with other factors, this means that truckers may be more vulnerable than most to becoming seriously ill due to the current coronavirus outbreak.
Data on the virus and its impact is still being gathered. But currently, the WHO says that there are a few risk factors that are associated with a higher likelihood of serious COVID-2019 illness. They include being older, having respiratory issues, high blood pressure, lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.
Unfortunately, on average truck drivers are much more likely than the general public to fall into those categories.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, truck drivers anywhere from two to five times as likely to experience high risk factors.
- Trucker obesity rate (69%) vs American average (31%)
- Trucker morbid obesity rate (17%) vs American average (7%)
- Truckers who regularly smoke cigarettes (51%) vs American average (10%)
- Truckers with Diabetes (14%) vs American average (7%)
- Truckers without health insurance (38%) vs American average (17%)
- Trucker average age (55 years old) vs American average (38.2 years old)
Not only are truckers at a higher risk if they contract the virus, but due to the nature of the job, many truckers face challenges and risks that the general public doesn’t have to worry about.
While many Americans are being encouraged to practice social distancing, limit physical interaction, and work from home if possible, truckers don’t have that option. Trucking isn’t a job that can be performed remotely. Since many truckers are away from home for weeks at a time, they have no choice but to rely on other businesses for food, hygiene, and other basic needs.
Testing locations that have popped up in parking lots across the country are designed with small passenger vehicles in mind. Many can’t cater to large eighteen-wheelers. Even those clinics and healthcare services that do serve truckers are currently subject to the ’20 test kits per site’ maximum. With so few options available to them, truckers may have a hard time getting tested if they do feel sick.
Finally, while the CDC says that it is imperative for people who are sick to self-quarantine and avoid contact with other people, a huge number of truckers don’t have access to paid time off or sick days. And while an emergency spending bill is expected from the federal government at some point, the timing and final details of the bill are still unknown.