- Gig workers for food delivery and ride-hailing apps are bracing for the spread of coronavirus.
- Because their jobs require on-demand service to dozens of strangers every day — and don’t provide health insurance or other benefits — contractors are nervous about how an outbreak could impact them.
- Drivers and delivery workers for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash told Business Insider they’re scouring their cars with bleach and cutting back on hours — and that they’re unsure what they’ll do if the outbreak gets worse.
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As more work remotely or self-quarantine amid the spread of the novel coronavirus, gig workers for food delivery apps and ride-hailing services continue to work jobs that demand they come into contact with hundreds of people each day.
More than 100 patients across the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, and experts warn that a lack of widespread testing could mean the real number of people infected is higher. The disease can spread between people who are up to six feet apart, according to the CDC, and is transmitted through tiny droplets of saliva or mucus.
Concern around the disease has built in recent weeks among gig workers who interact with a different set of strangers every day. Some Uber drivers told Business Insider last week that they were avoiding airport pickups, fearing a heightened risk of infection from people traveling overseas. Others have said they’ve switched from ride-hailing to delivery so they interact with fewer people.
An an attempt to quell fears, companies including Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have issued guidance to their contractors for working as the coronavirus spreads. Contractors are advised to wipe down their delivery vehicles with disinfectants, wash their hands frequently, and stay home if they feel sick.
But gig workers told Business Insider that they’re worried they lack a safety net if they do encounter a sick customer or get sick themselves. As contractors, gig workers are not eligible for health benefits, and companies are generally not liable for risks posed by the job.
Business Insider interviewed contractors about what it’s like to work in the gig economy amid fears of the coronavirus. Many described obsessively sanitizing their cars, cutting down on hours, and exchanging nervous glances with strangers who cough. Others said they’re hoping for the best and maintaining business as usual. Gig workers were granted anonymity in order to speak openly about their situation.
Here’s what they said.
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