Coronavirus. It’s something few Americans gave much of a thought about while ringing in 2020 on New Year’s Eve. Just three short months later, it’s all Americans can think about. As nurses and doctors many the front lines in this fight and American citizens practice social distancing, wash our hands, and hunker down to ride out this storm, it’s truckers who are among the unsung heroes delivering critical medical supplies and essential goods to hospitals and grocery stores across the country.

As the world tilts and shifts for everyone across the country, citizens have flocked to grocery stores to stock up on essentials. Items everyone takes for granted, such as hand soap, sanitizer, toilet paper, and even food are suddenly in short supply on retail shelves. It has been up to America’s truck drivers to step up to the plate to deliver the home run for the American people.

Now, the American Trucking Associations, ATA, which is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry, is calling on Americans to salute the men and women who are working long hours, pulling extra shifts, and travelling extra miles across the country.

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Companies in the U.S. are pushing for, or required to mandate, staff members to stay home while coronavirus cases continue climbing. Unfortunately, along with healthcare providers, service workers and other individuals with at-risk jobs, a common job title in the U.S. where employees can’t work from their home is fleet drivers.

As public health officials and medical professionals work diligently to slow down the spread of this virus, truck drivers have to work 24/7 to deliver food, critical medical supplies and other essentials to grocery stores and hospitals nationwide. In fact, around 1.8 million individuals in the U.S. are truck drivers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And, the job calls for truck drivers to travel all over the country, and come in contact with shipped goods from overseas, which can not only impact them, but everyone they come into contact with. So, what can truck drivers do to stay protected from the coronavirus?

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In an unprecedented response to the national emergency declaration made by President Trump, the U.S. Department of Transportation is relaxing the hours-of-service regulations for drivers transporting emergency supplies to relieve pressure on hospitals and retailers.

The hours-of-service rules have been in place for 82 years. During that time, they have never been suspended on the federal level, though there have been instances, in response to hurricanes and other natural disasters, for instance, when states have temporarily suspended those regulations.

Among specific items falling under the relief requirements are:

  • Medical equipment and supplies for diagnosing and treating COVID-19.
  • Supplies and equipment designed to improve community safety, such as hand sanitizer, faces masks, gloves, soaps, and disinfectants.
  • Food supplies for restocking depleted store shelves.
  • Equipment and supplies necessary to manage temporary housing and quarantine facilities for COVID-19.
  • Medical services personnel and equipment.

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