Over the weekend, Uber drivers finally received guidelines from the ride-hailing company about how to handle the coronavirus outbreak — they’re being asked to frequently wash their hands and, if they feel sick, to stay home.
Uber’s notification came after two US deaths — the total has now reached six, with 88 reported infections. Both Washington state deaths occurred at the EvergreenHealth hospital in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, where an outbreak of coronavirus occurred at a nursing facility housing elderly residents with existing health conditions.
An anonymous Uber driver based in Seattle provided BuzzFeed News with a screenshot of the coronavirus guidelines drivers received Saturday. They included four bullet points:
- If you feel sick, stay home.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your vehicle.
“This is all that has been sent to us as drivers in the market where the first US death has been reported,” the driver told BuzzFeed News. “It would be cool if they could do more, but I honestly don't know what else they can do.”The driver said that he’s currently wearing a filter mask and gloves in the car. “I was an EMT for a long time,” he said. “I have asthma and a newborn at home.”
A spokesperson for Uber confirmed the message’s accuracy.
“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,” the Uber spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “We remain in close contact with local public health organizations and will continue to follow their recommendations.”
The spokesperson said that at the moment there are no plans to compensate workers who take sick leave or to provide drivers with emergency equipment. “We are monitoring the situation in all the markets we operate,” the spokesperson said.
Silicon Valley Rising, a campaign run by labor organizations, faith leaders, community-based organizations, and workers, released a statement about the coronavirus Monday. Following the report of nine coronavirus cases in Silicon Valley, the coalition called on tech companies to provide gig workers with sick leave and affordable health care.
“It would be cool if they could do more, but I honestly don't know what else they can do.”
“Affordable healthcare and paid sick days are basic human rights and essential to protecting public health,” the statement read. “We call on all employers, particularly those in the tech sector, to fully include subcontracted and service workers in their Coronavirus response plans. Cafeteria workers, janitors, security officers, shuttle drivers, and people working in the gig economy frequently interact with large numbers of people in the course of their jobs.”
BuzzFeed News has reached out to popular delivery and ride-hail apps to find out what kinds of precautions have been put in place. That post will be updated as we hear back.