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The truck drivers are among the country's unsung heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the majority of the Americans put under lockdown and ordered to stay at home while the country is battling against the coronavirus crisis, truckers bravely remain behind the wheel of their big rigs to supply the goods and essentials that would help drive the country forward.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recognized the transportation sector as one of 13 critical infrastructures that are deemed essential in maintaining the nation's continuity of operations amidst the pandemic.
Cargo trucking is among the vital areas of transportation as it takes on the task of delivering essential goods for the people and businesses. It is also one of the key contributors to the many facets of national defense, as well as public safety, health, and welfare.
"If the trucks don't move, no one gets anything.”
Looking through Reddit, here's what a trucker has to say on the importance of trucking amidst the global health crisis:
The trucking industry is still doing what we can. We are working long hours, and the important freight is moving. My terminal has been moving lots of toilet paper, sanitizing wipes, nitrile gloves, alcohol sanitizer, and water. It's good to know that we aren't risking our health for nothing.
The VOA News Washington correspondent, Carolyn Presutti, made a short documentary with the title "US Truckers Face New Hardship While Delivering Vital Supplies During Pandemic" to showcase what life is like for American truckers these days. VOA hitched a ride with two 10-wheeler truck drivers working for FedEx, and here’s what they have to say:
"You know when you're in a truck, cooped up all the time, there's not much room for the germs to go. They're right here together all the time, so when one of us gets sick, the other one's going to be sick".
Besides vulnerability to the virus, truck drivers also face other challenges, such as closed showers and restrooms on truck stops due to COVID-19 scare and lack of wipes, masks, sanitizers, and other vital sanitation products. But all these difficulties can’t stop them from continuing to spend most of their days on the road. One of the two drivers, Rob Rassera, has an interesting take on how important trucking is in these trying times:
"If the trucks don't move, the hospitals won't get supplies; the doctors won't get their PPE; no one gets anything. The world will come to a screeching halt."
“The trucking industry is moving America's goods."
In one of its news articles dated March 23, 2020, Fox8 recognizes the trucking industry's contribution to the economy. The news states:
"The trucking industry could be key to keeping the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Truckers are working hard to keep goods flowing while in a dire situation as supplies continue to run low. Drivers are putting in overtime so they can travel across the country and help keep stores stocked."
The digital news site, The Advocate, also published on its April 13, 2020 issue a write up with the title "Truckers hailed as 'road heroes', 'backbone of this country' during coronavirus pandemic."
The article quoted several personalities from the Logistics and Transportation sectors who value the truckers' significant role during the raging coronavirus pandemic. These include the "Road heroes" phrase used by the president of Bengal Transportation— John Austin—while referring to commercial truck drivers who continue to do their job despite all the challenges.
Tim Ordoyne, the Vice President at large of the Louisiana Motor Transportation Association, pointed out that the trucking sector is the "backbone of this country at this point." Randy Guillot, chairman of the American Trucking Association and president of Triple G Express in New Orleans, added: "At the end of the day, the trucking industry is moving America's goods."
"America Thanks You"
The risks the truck drivers have to take and the hard work they do to keep the products moving didn't go unnoticed. Using the hashtag #ThankATrucker, most Americans turn to social media to show their gratitude to the heroes of the road who have been out there since day one, working the frontlines. There are also billboards around Ohio that say "America Thanks You" along with the hashtag #ThankATrucker.
Some citizens also send their thanks by giving out food as a small token of appreciation to the drivers. Social media users dubbed these acts "Treat A Trucker" campaign. There are even truck stops that joined such cause by offering free meals to the drivers.
The San Paso Truck Stop in Paso Robles California, for one, stated on its Twitter account that it has served over 1,200 (and counting) free meals to the country's heroic truckers because they “keep America moving forward.”
Do you have your own trucking experience or any #ThankATrucker or #TreatATrucker story to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.