Uber promised drivers masks weeks in the past. Most say they’re nonetheless ready

Uber promised drivers masks weeks in the past. Most say they’re nonetheless ready


Uber and Lyft drivers say the businesses must do extra to get them masks and different security gear to guard them from the coronavirus whereas on the job.

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Uber mentioned it was delivery tens of tens of millions of face masks to drivers two weeks in the past. The ride-hailing large mentioned it will prioritize full-time drivers working within the cities hit hardest by the novel coronavirus, like New York and Los Angeles. Then it’d proceed to ship face coverings to drivers in different cities around the globe.

For essentially the most half, nonetheless, these masks have but to materialize, drivers say.

Driver teams in Los Angeles and New York say they have not heard of their members receiving these provides. A spokeswoman for the Unbiased Drivers Guild, which represents 200,000 drivers within the New York space, mentioned none of its drivers have reported getting masks. A spokesman for Cell Employees Alliance, which represents hundreds of drivers in Southern California, mentioned simply three drivers have reported receiving provides from Uber.

Carrying masks whereas on the job has now develop into necessary for important staff in lots of cities throughout the US, together with New York and Los Angeles. And when not required, it is strongly really helpful. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention mentioned earlier this month that all folks ought to put on masks in public locations to be able to restrict the unfold of COVID-19, the illness attributable to the coronavirus.

Uber and Lyft drivers are thought of important staff, which implies they will proceed to work because the virus spreads. They have been delivering meals to folks in quarantine and transporting medical staff to and from the hospital. Many drivers say they’ve had a tough time through the pandemic, seeing their earnings plummet or getting contaminated with the virus. A minimum of 4 Uber drivers are identified to have died from COVID-19, one in New York, one in Brazil and two in London.

“It has been disappointing that when disaster struck, Uber and Lyft didn’t transfer rapidly to guard their staff and riders,” mentioned Moira Muntz, spokeswoman from the Unbiased Drivers Guild. “After a number of weeks with out revenue and with unemployment claims caught in forms, extra drivers wish to get again to work however they should be protected.”

Delays and low provides

A part of the issue is that retailer cabinets have emptied through the coronavirus outbreak and security gear is now briefly provide.

To sidestep that subject, Uber mentioned it labored with producers in China to supply its personal masks for drivers. The masks Uber is distributing aren’t N-95 respirators that well being care staff want, however relatively disposable ear-loop face masks.

Initially, Uber mentioned it shipped its first order of about 20,000 masks to drivers in New York Metropolis on April 7. One other cargo went to Los Angeles drivers shortly afterward, and Uber mentioned these staff ought to’ve obtained the masks within the mail by the top of final week. An Uber spokesman mentioned that as of Wednesday, about 800,000 masks have both shipped or are being packed for delivery and tens of millions extra are on the way in which. The corporate mentioned it will probably’t predict mail delays.

“Like so many within the US and around the globe, now we have struggled to seek out a lot of these provides, however we leveraged our international footprint to supply gadgets from suppliers around the globe,” the spokesman mentioned. “After all, given the logistical realities, getting a masks to each energetic driver will take time, and now we have been sincere about that.”

The three drivers affiliated with Cell Employees Alliance who did get masks mentioned they bought a package deal of a number of single-use masks from Uber. Just a few different drivers have talked about on social media that they too bought a package deal of masks.

“I bought about 6 face masks from Uber immediately after filling out the request type final week,” one Los Angeles-based Reddit consumer posted final Friday. “Good too, the one I used to be utilizing for the final 30 days is nearly trashed.”

As a result of Uber is prioritizing which drivers get masks for now, the one method to get the face coverings is to be invited by the corporate. Uber is sending these choose drivers a message within the app that claims if they need masks, they should verify their tackle. Uber mentioned that because it will get extra provides, its purpose is to supply masks to all drivers nationwide.

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Lyft mentioned it is distributing masks to its drivers too. Somewhat than ship them within the mail, like Uber, it is as a substitute handing them out on sure days in choose cities. In Los Angeles, for instance, any driver can go to a specified car parking zone the place a consultant will give them one masks and one sanitizing product per week. The provides are solely out there each different day and on a first-come, first-served foundation.

“We have ordered tons of of hundreds of fabric face coverings for drivers,” a Lyft spokeswoman mentioned. “We have already begun distributing these to drivers, prioritizing areas the place further steerage about face coverings has been given.”

Sanitizer shortages

Uber introduced earlier this month that it shipped 30,000 one-quart bottles of disinfectant spray to drivers in a number of cities to assist them clear their automobiles. And it mentioned it is at the moment delivery out one other massive order of disinfectant wipes. However the firm has run into points distributing sanitizer as properly.

As with the masks, Uber bought the disinfectants from third-party suppliers. It mentioned that since its preliminary order, a number of further orders from numerous producers have been both delayed or cancelled to prioritize well being care staff and different first responders. 

In its first cargo, Uber mentioned it despatched 11,000 bottles to New York drivers. However the Unbiased Drivers Guild mentioned none of its drivers have reported getting any sanitizer from Uber. To get drivers private protecting gear, the group mentioned it has been working with the non-profit Black Automobile Fund to purchase and distribute masks, sanitizer and gloves.

In Los Angeles, drivers say they’re attempting to do what they will to maintain themselves and their passengers secure. Some have do-it-yourself masks and erected plastic boundaries between the back and front seats. Others have gloves that they will reuse. Many clear their automobiles with Lysol spray, which continues to be tough to seek out at grocery shops.

So long as drivers are solely offered piecemeal security gear, ride-hailing goes to proceed to create dangers relating to the unfold of COVID-19, mentioned Uber and Lyft driver Armen Oganesyan, who’s affiliated with Cell Employees Alliance.

“The businesses’ refusal to supply all drivers with private protecting gear can have grave penalties,” Oganesyan mentioned. “They have to take motion now to avoid wasting lives.”

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