Hopefully this will be the last coronavirus article we will ever have to post, as the coronavirus vaccine has been authorized for distribution and application nationwide. But COVID-19 does not plan to go down without a fight, and as one last hurrah, it may just make the holidays a little more difficult, for truckers and the economy as a whole.
The Four-punch Combo
Coronavirus has four different effects on society that will make Christmas less festive this year.
This one is the most obvious, and the one least directly related to trucking. With older folks more susceptible to the resulting symptoms from COVID-19, being able to meet with parents, aunts, and uncles could lead to hospitalization or even death. Even if you meet with healthy, young friends and family, the virus spreading to other people can create a domino effect where someone eventually gets in touch with grandma.
This is rhetoric we have been hearing for months now. Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and many other holidays have been less fun this year. But with the vaccine distribution underway, it would be extremely foolish now more than ever to give the elderly the virus when we are on the verge of ending the pandemic.
Cyber Monday 2020 was the largest online retail day in history: in the United States sales totalled $10.8 billion, which is an over 15% increase from the year prior.
Some of this can be explained by inflation and the natural growth of the economy, perhaps about 5%. But the other 10% is probably due to extraordinary circumstances, including the pandemic. It has been shown by constantly rising freight rates that the demand for luxury goods did not merely drop during the first months of the pandemic, but rather they were pushed back to later months in the year. The holiday season may be the final culmination of this phenomenon, as people want to gift each other special things as a token to celebrate surviving the year.
Trucks are needed to deliver the coronavirus vaccine nationwide. The fact that the delivery of the vaccine coincides with the holidays means that trucks are busier than ever this holiday season, whether it is the delivery of flatscreen televisions, curved monitors, or thousands of immunizations.
We should be able to make both Christmas and coronavirus shipments on time, provided that we delay Christmas until mid-January.
Finally, perhaps the biggest log-jam in making Christmas work this year is that fewer elves are at the workshop.
Practicing social distancing protocols at work means fewer people per square foot at the building. At shipping hubs such as those for the United States Postal Service, this means longer waits of up to fifteen hours, as fewer workers means fewer trucks loaded each hour.
You might expect a conclusion along the lines of “truckers must now work harder than ever to solve both the coronavirus pandemic and save Christmas”, but overworking yourself and risking getting into an 80,000 pound collision is no way to work.
The truth is that there is no easy solution to Christmas 2020; we will have to see where the cards fall in the next few days. Whether you are hauling vaccines, moving electric scooters, or staying home this holiday season, we salute truckers for getting us through this crazy epidemic.