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Coronavirus: What Truckers Need to Know

Note: this article was originally posted on TopMark Funding in February 2020. As it is posted as it was written originally, information may be outdated by current governmental directions in dealing with COVID-19. At the same time, it is an interesting lookback on how we viewed the virus at the beginning of the pandemic.

Chances are you are familiar with the existence of COVID-19, otherwise known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or the coronavirus. There has been lots of media hubbub about coronavirus since the start of 2020, some fact and some fiction. How worried should you be while traveling on the road? If you contract the virus, what happens? Here we will go over some facts and tips to help truckers with this disease.

Avoiding Coronavirus

One commonly popular method of preventing coronavirus has been wearing facemasks. The United States Surgeon General has said this is counterintuitive. Contracting coronavirus is much more likely to happen through your hands, face, and eyes than through your mouth. At the same time, a person who has coronavirus is likely to transmit it by coughing, so buying a facemask when you are healthy only compounds the epidemic: not only do you not lower your chances of contraction, but you prevent an infected person from spreading it because they do not have a mask.

If you want to take proactive steps to avoid contracting coronavirus, the best thing you can do is wear gloves while handling objects grabbed by multiple people, such as door handles and diesel pumps. If you do not have gloves when touching these things, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching personal objects such as your phone or your steering wheel.

Additionally, if you have disinfecting wipes, it is a good idea to clean your personal items. Not just for coronavirus, but other pathogens as well. You would be surprised how many microbes exist on items just by them not being cleaned often enough.

Treating Coronavirus

So let’s say you contract the coronavirus. What happens next, should you begin writing your will and planning for funeral expenses? To do so would be getting ahead of yourself. The coronavirus is a fully recoverable disease. Like with the common flu, your body will develop antibodies to make future infections less deadly. This is also how vaccines work: they intentionally give you weaker infections your body can fight off to prevent a future infection from killing you.

If you contract coronavirus, it will take two to fourteen days before you start feeling:

  • Fever
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Cough

This is where the face masks come into play. While they cannot help a healthy person avoid the coronavirus, they can help a sick person from spreading it. Wearing a mask or covering your mouth when you cough can lower the rate of infection significantly.

Additionally, if you feel you may have coronavirus, avoid shaking hands to reduce the spread of infection.

Coronavirus’ Largest Effect on Trucking

As a trucker who most likely spends most of his day alone in his cabin, the greatest impact coronavirus may have on you involves international policy. The quarantines in China resulting from coronavirus have led to a reduction of US imports from the country, which might feel similar to the trade war the US had with China in recent years.

China is one of the United States’ largest suppliers in a variety of different materials, including electronics and cod. Other countries in the world such as Brazil and India picked up some of the importing slack during the trade war and could do the same now, but it will take the cooperation of a multitude of countries to even begin to replace the economic powerhouse that is China from the global economy.

So how does all of this information impact you, sitting in your cabin and driving along the road? A lower supply of goods to transfer from Pacific ports means both a lower chance of landing a contract and a higher rate per mile if you land it. Established trucking companies that have relationships with other businesses and are trusted to get the job done benefit the most (or suffer the least) from the coronavirus, while newer trucking companies relying directly on the spot market may suffer.

Conclusion

You may recall the H1N1 (swine flu) epidemic a decade ago and the fear-mongering that was caused surrounding it. Coronavirus will almost certainly be looked back on in 2030 as we look back on swine flu. While the odds coronavirus will kill you are very slim, it is never fun to be sick, and as such it is in your best interest to take precautions until a vaccine is developed. Wear gloves when refueling, wash your hands before eating, and wipe down your steering wheel at least once a week. Eventually the quarantines in China will lift and imports will return to normal levels.

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