Truck drivers, tasked with fueling the supply chain amid coronavirus crisis, try to keep things rolling

With grocery store shelves emptying soon after they’re restocked and a premium placed on medical supplies, truck drivers are among the workers deemed essential as the country copes with the coronavirus epidemic.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued the guidance as states and communities limit activities to stem the spread of COVID-19, the highly infectious disease caused by the new coronavirus.

“If you ever had any question about the (essential nature) of the (trucking) industry, you shouldn’t now,” Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, said Wednesday.

“Truck drivers are keeping us going,” Fulton added. “They’re the thin line keeping us together right now in terms of goods and services.”

To keep the line from snapping, truck stops across the country are staying open, according to a statement by the National Association of Truck Stop Owners.. The businesses are considered part of the nation’s critical infrastructure workforce under the federal guidance issued March 19.

“Fuel retailers are ‘essential’ businesses that must remain open even if other ‘nonessential’ businesses are forced to close,” said Lisa Mullings, CEO and president of the truck stop owners’ organization.

 

However, Fulton said truck stops have had to make some changes to meet local restrictions imposed since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Truck stops aren’t offering dine-in eating.

“They are providing take-out and are providing shower facilities to try to accommodate drivers, which we greatly appreciate,” Fulton said.