HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — COVID-19 has people who are stuck at home in panic buying mode and that is putting pressure on the nation’s truck drivers.
Truck drivers are helping stock the shelves and assuring that the supply chain is making timely deliveries. Driver James Baker Jackson has seen his goods sell out almost as soon as he hits the loading dock. As he sees it, there’s no shelf life for his haul. It pretty much goes from his trailer to the customer checkout line.
“I had crates of water. They were sold out fifteen minutes after I unloaded,” Jackson says. “But we keep moving the goods, to keep America moving. We keep America running.”
But truckers are facing some COVID-19-related challenges. Pennsylvania has shut down highway rest stops as a health precaution. And West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, said Monday he doesn’t “want people coming across state lines.”
Rest stops are enough of a perk as it is, says Anwar Franklin who stopped with his big rig at the PILOT truck stop where I-81 and I-70 converge at Hagerstown. “By 6 or 7 o’clock the rest stops start to fill up. It’s a challenge because you have to take a ten-hour break.”
The economy is a real wild card for these truckers. Rates for their goods are being propped up by all the panic buying. But if the U.S. plunges into a deep recession, as is predicted, widespread layoffs are expected in the transportation sector, including trucking.
Meanwhile, drivers are following safe protocols to dodge the coronavirus. Delivery documents are signed with their own pens and hand sanitizer and cans of Lysol are staples at the truck stops.