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A new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has spread worldwide. Learn more about what Uber and Lyft drivers can do to help minimize viral exposure and illness.
Since the end of 2019, a new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, has infected hundreds of thousands of people and killed thousands more worldwide. The disease caused by this new coronavirus is known as COVID-19. Thousands of new COVID-19 cases are being detected daily. This turn of events has left many Uber and Lyft drivers wondering, how can they protect themselves and their passengers from getting the virus?
Coronavirus: Any of a group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals.
SARS-CoV-2: Previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”, this is the name of the specific virus that appeared in late 2019 and spread around the world in early 2020. SARS-CoV-2 stands for “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2”.
COVID-19: The disease caused by this virus, which may include acute respiratory distress, among other symptoms listed below.
- Coronaviruses are common in different animals. Rarely, an animal coronavirus can infect humans.
- There are many different kinds of coronaviruses. Some of them can cause colds or other mild respiratory (nose, throat, lung) illnesses.
- Other coronaviruses can cause more serious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
- Coronaviruses are named for their appearance: Under the microscope, the viruses look like they are covered with pointed structures that surround them like a corona, or crown.
Identify who’s at risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people who get the virus experience cold or flu-like symptoms. They do not become seriously ill. However, some groups of people are at greater risk of developing serious illness requiring hospitalization:
- People ages 60 and older
- People with lung disease, heart disease, or diabetes
- People with conditions that suppress the immune system
It is especially important that individuals with these risk factors protect themselves from getting the virus.
Know how the virus spreads
The coronavirus can be shed from both the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts of the body. As of late, the CDC has determined that SARS-CoV-2 primarily infects others when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person enter another person’s eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus can also spread from contact with a surface contaminated by these droplets. Theoretically, it could even spread by contaminated air or feces. However, it is important to note that air and fecal borne SARS-CoV-2 infections are likely to be rare, especially among non-health care workers.
Practice protective hygiene and self-care
Good hygiene and self-care can help protect yourself and your passengers from getting the virus.
Stay safe and follow the CDC’s recommendations:
- Avoid physical contact with passengers
- Drive with the windows open when possible
- Keep tissues and facemasks within reach for sick passengers
- Encourage passengers to use tissues to cover their sneeze or cough
- Provide a bag within reach for tissue disposal
- If no tissues or facemasks are available, cover your sneeze or cough with your elbow
- Provide hand sanitizer with 60% or greater alcohol content
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Use hand sanitizer immediately after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.
- Use disinfecting wipes to clean your phone and car surfaces, including your steering wheel, trunk lid, and door handles, in between rides
- Wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom
- When washing your hands, wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Boost your immune system with plenty of healthy food, water, and rest and by avoiding stress as much as possible
- Continue stress-relieving self-care practices such as relaxation, exercise, meditation, and connecting with loved ones
Know the symptoms of COVID-19
Common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Body Aches
Symptoms often appear within 2 – 14 days of being exposed to the virus. If you develop these symptoms, and suspect you were exposed to a person or place in the United States or abroad with COVID-19, visit your local public health department for testing. It is important to note that someone who has completed quarantine or been released from isolation is not at risk of infecting other people.
Receive sick pay for COVID-19 with Uber and Lyft
If you test positive for the virus, or the health department asks you to self-isolate, Uber will provide you with up to 14 days of sick pay. Similarly, if you test positive for the virus, or the health department asks you to self-quarantine, Lyft will provide you with funds for an unspecified amount of time. The amount of sick pay you receive will reflect your average daily earnings over the last four weeks to six months, depending on whether you work for Lyft or Uber, respectively. Uber and Lyft will also work to protect you and your passengers by temporarily suspending the account of anyone diagnosed with or exposed to the virus until they are medically cleared.
Consider switching to delivery
If you are concerned about catching the virus from your passengers, consider doing delivery instead. Delivery is in high demand with restaurants closing and people isolating themselves to avoid being exposed to the virus.
Shipt, Uber Eats, Instacart, Rover, Postmates and Doordash involve much less interaction than rideshare driving. Most of them have introduced delivery options where you can just leave the order at their door. No contact with the delivery recipient required. This option may help protect your health and your business..
- Begley, Sharon. “The new coronavirus can likely remain airborne for some time. That doesn’t mean we’re doomed.” STAT, March 16, 2020. Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus (COVID-19).” March 16, 2020. Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Cases in U.S.” March 16, 2020. Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Situation Summary.” March 15, 2020. Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Lyft. “Lyft’s latest info on coronavirus.” 2020. Accessed March 16, 2020.
- Uber. “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources and Updates.” 2020. Accessed March 16, 2020.
- World Health Organization. “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation report – 56.” March 16, 2020. Accessed March 16, 2020.
This article is not intended to give medical advice. The CDC, or your physician, are the best sources for advice regarding your health and safety. We may get a referral fee for products that you purchase through links on this website.
Dr. Lauren Weinand M.D. is a medical writer and practicing family medicine physician. Her medical writing has been published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine; Pain Treatment Specialists blog; The Recovery Village blog; Oglethorpe Inc. blog; and several newspapers.