Uber and Lyft are giving drivers tips on how to the avoid the coronavirus. What drivers aren’t getting: money to see a doctor or stay at home if they’re feeling sick.
Already there have been 62 recorded cases of the respiratory illness, and six related deaths, in the U.S. Worldwide the death toll is over 3,056 with China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy hit the hardest.
In response to the crisis, on Friday, Uber sent advice to drivers and delivery workers, including, “If you feel sick, stay home,” and, “Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your vehicle.” offered advice like, “Take care of yourself,” “Keep your car clean,” and “Stay informed.”
But asking drivers to stay home is a tall order. Uber and Lyft aren’t providing alcohol wipes or other cleaning supplies. The companies sure aren’t paying for a sick day.
For drivers who rely on ride-sharing as a main income source or to supplement other work, taking time off isn’t an option.
Without healthcare options or paid sick leave, most drivers can’t afford to spare customers from possible contamination. Gridwise, a ride-share driver resource, found drivers in major U.S. cities averaged just below two trips an hour last year. That’s a lot of people coming in and out of a car every day.
And for their work, drivers make an average of $17.21 an hour. That means, for someone paying out of pocket, a simple doctor’s visit would cost about four (or more) hours worth of driving.
Delivery workers in Australia faced a similar situation during the raging brushfires. Services like Uber could only offer minimal support, which usually amounted to website links to resources and tips.
Uber and Lyft shared the resources they sent to drivers with Mashable. In addition, an Uber spokesperson said in an email statement, “We are always working to help ensure the safety of our employees and everyone on the Uber platform, and we continue to be concerned by the ongoing spread of coronavirus.”
“We have formed a dedicated global team of Uber operations, security and safety executives, guided by the advice of a consulting public health expert, to respond as needed in each market where we operate around the world,” the statement said. “We remain in close contact with local public health organizations and will continue to follow their recommendations.”
Uber already suspended driver accounts in Mexico City and London because they came in contact with passengers who tested positive for the virus.
It’s not just on drivers to make ride-sharing as safe as possible. Passengers also need to remember to wash their hands.