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Uber is my primary income. Each time I drive, I risk contracting COVID-19

Like millions of people in this country, I work as a ride-share driver. It’s decent money between writing gigs. And besides the odd psycho, I enjoy my customers. Sharing the close confines of my four-door sedan, we talk, have some laughs and listen to music.

We also sneeze, cough and touch every surface in the car. Sometimes passengers throw up. It’s not a job for the germaphobic.

But for the first time in nearly three years, I’m starting to feel apprehension about these conditions. The coronavirus has arrived in my home of Los Angeles. As of Wednesday, Los Angeles County had 192 confirmed cases. One person in the county has died from the illness. Public health officials have made it clear that this will get worse before it gets better. They have encouraged social distancing.

Uber itself has given the appearance of going along with safety measures. They are strongly encouraging corporate employees to work from home. Drivers who are diagnosed with the illness will find their accounts suspended. UberPools have been suspended. But as of Tuesday, the company was calling for the continuation of all other Uber products, including UberX rides and Uber Eats. Diagnosed drivers, or those placed in mandatory government quarantine, will be compensated.

An Uber car drives through LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Like many workers, we drivers cannot just socially distance ourselves. 

Driving is frequently my primary source of income. During those times, there is no way I can pay for essentials without putting my health, and the health of my riders, at risk. While this fact is no doubt an indictment of our capitalist system, it is also an illustration of just how insufficient Uber’s measures are.

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