How Drivers Can Stay Safe During COVID-19
Drivers Benefits is committed to providing news relevant to drivers about how to protect themselves and what to do if they are sick. We are going to update this page and continue to make it better. Last updated 5/15/20.
The most recently updated material will be highlighted in blue.New:
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is a very contagious and dangerous virus, with symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, fever, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, headache, and muscle pain.
Who’s at risk?
Everyone is at risk. But those who are at a higher risk of getting very sick are older adults and those who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.
How Does it Spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- Spreading the disease is also possible before people show symptoms.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
A person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.What if I think I already had COVID-19?
You can get an antibody test to find out if this was the case. The implications of a positive antibody test are unclear at this time.
New York City and BioReference Laboratories have partnered together to have free tests in the five boroughs as part of the “NYC Testing Program.” You can schedule a test here. Testing availability is limited, so we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.
How to stay safe?
As a driver, you come into contact with many people throughout the day, increasing your risk of getting the virus or spreading it. Below are ways to stay safe and healthy:Wear a Face Covering
On April 15th, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order requiring members of the public to wear a face covering when social distancing cannot be kept. This would include being inside a car. The order goes into effect on Friday, April 17th.
You can find the executive order here.
New York City is distributing face coverings. You can find a list of times and locations here.
As of April 2nd, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a guidance recommending that all New Yorkers wear a face covering when they are outside of their homes, and, in particular, whenever using car services. We have copied some of the most important guidelines for drivers below. You can find the full guidance here.What type of face covering is better — paper or cloth?
Either paper or cloth face covering is fine — as long as you are covering your nose and mouth. However, please do not hoard paper masks, especially medical grade masks, such as N95 masks or surgical masks. These masks are in very short supply and our health care providers need masks to stay healthy and to care for the most critically ill. Health care workers cannot keep distance from others, avoid sick people, or avoid contact with others’ bodily fluid such as saliva, so it is essential that we reserve masks for them.How often do I need to wash my face covering?
If you are using a cloth face covering, we recommend washing once a day by hand or machine using detergent. The face covering should be fully dry before using. People should have a couple of face coverings so they can rotate for washing.Are there precautions I should take with my face covering?
- In taking on and off a face covering, you will likely touch your face. As such, please wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or, if not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer every time you take on and off your face covering.
- Do not put a used face covering in places where others can touch them or where germs trapped in your face covering can touch other surfaces, such as counter tops or your kitchen table.
- Used paper masks should be thrown out at the end of the day.
- Do not throw your face covering loose in a bag or backpack. We recommend keeping a plastic back with you to store your face covering if you will be taking it off when outside the house.
Disinfect most commonly touched parts of the car: steering wheel, backseats, passenger handles, seatbelts, car buttons, and headrests. Here are more detailed tips for how to clean your car during Coronavirus.
We know it’s hard to find a bathroom to wash your hands, so we recommend keeping the following in your car so you can wash your hands on-the-go:
- Water bottle with a sports cap
- Paper towels so you can fully dry your hands
- Plastic bag to throw out the paper towel
- Remember you must wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Here’s a video to show you how to properly wash your hands, so you don’t forget any hidden spots.
Coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the world. The best way to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe is to stay home if you think you might be getting sick, even if it’s just the common cold. Also, avoid public space and keep your distance from people when you’re not driving.
Health Webinar with New York City Department of Health
In April, we hosted a webinar with the New York City Department of Health’s Rima Oken, Director of Policy, Division of Disease Control and Anna Shats, Community Coordinator for South Brooklyn and Staten Island. We went over how drivers can stay safe and healthy while driving.
What Should You Do If You Feel Sick?
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, like fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call a doctor immediately. As a Drivers Benefits member, you get free, 24/7 access to MDLIVE*. You and your immediate family can use the app, or call directly, to chat with a doctor in more than 150 languages whenever or wherever. Click here to download the MDLIVE app on the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store today, or just call at 1-888-574-2864.Currently MDLIVE wait times are longer than usual. However, they are hiring more doctors so this shouldn’t continue to be such an issue. You can use the app to schedule an appointment so you don’t need to wait on the phone or risk going to a crowded doctor’s office.
Sign up for Duke Community Health Watch
You should also consider signing up for Duke Community Health Watch. In this program, they will:
- Help you monitor any symptoms you may be having and provide guidance on how to care for yourself at home
- Provide guidance on when to seek medical care if your symptoms increase
- Support you in following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and your local public health department
If you are interested in learning more about the program and applying, please click here for more information.