With the arrival of the COVID-19 coronavirus, we’ve entered uncharted territory. Our new reality (for at least the next few weeks, anyway) is one of quarantines and empty streets.
- COVID-19 cases have now been reported in every state across the U.S.
- This respiratory illness started in Wuhan, China.
- Cases have been reported in several countries across the globe.
Whether you’re a rider or a driver, you may need to turn to ridesharing during this pandemic. Here is some guidance that may help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
Choose ridesharing over public transit, since it may pose less of a risk
The crowded conditions often found on public transit may hasten the spread of COVID-19; ridesharing may be a safer option. (Photo: Engin Akyurt/Pixabay)
If you’re without a car and need to travel beyond the range of your feet or bicycle, you’re probably debating between the choice of using either ridesharing or public transit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person. It may be transmitted between people who are within about six feet of each other, and it’s also passed via the droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This makes it very easy for the virus to be transmitted in large groups; for this reason, many states have announced temporary bans on large gatherings.
Public transit such as buses and subways can get crowded, and if you’re on board, you may find yourself in the middle of a fairly large group of people. With ridesharing, the only person you’ll come in contact with is your driver. This means ridesharing may be a less risky choice than public transit if you need to travel and don’t own a car.
Travel with hand sanitizer
According to the CDC, it may be possible to get the COVID-19 coronavirus by touching a surface that’s been contaminated by an infected person and then rubbing your mouth, nose or eyes. Travel with a small container of hand sanitizer when ridesharing. Use it to clean your hands after making contact with surfaces that may have recently been touched by others. For riders, this includes both the interior and exterior door handles of the vehicle in which you’re traveling.
The CDC recommends that you use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. The most effective way to use this liquid is to cover your hands with it completely, and then rub them together until they’re dry.
Keep your distance
Some riders prefer traveling in the front seat of rideshare vehicles, next to the driver. That’s not advisable during this pandemic, since close contact may facilitate the spread of the virus. It’s a good idea for there to be as much distance between the rider and driver as possible. That means sitting in the back seat if you’re a rider, catty-cornered to the driver.
Clean frequently touched surfaces
If you’re a driver, it’s inevitable that riders are going to touch certain areas of your car during each journey. To ensure maximum safety, clean these areas of your car regularly. The CDC advises that frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned daily.
To ensure maximum safety, it’s a good idea to wipe down areas of your car that are frequently touched by passengers after each rider departs the vehicle. These areas may include the interior and exterior door handles, as well as the interior door surfaces and seatbacks. The CDC recommends using these disinfectants to eliminate COVID-19.
If you’re a passenger, carry wet wipes with you when ridesharing so that you can clean surfaces before touching them. Remember that this isn’t your personal vehicle, so be respectful. Before entering the car, ask the driver if it’s okay for you to wipe down frequently touched areas of the vehicle prior to contact. If the answer is no and you’re not comfortable with that, you always have the option of canceling the trip and getting another driver.
Know the symptoms, and stay home if you’re sick
If you suspect that you’ve been infected with COVID-19, stay home and avoid using ridesharing and public transportation. (Photo: Juraj Varga/Pixabay)
Symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus may appear two to 14 days after you’ve been exposed. If you’ve been infected, you may experience fever, coughing and shortness of breath.
If you feel you may have been infected, CDC guidelines explicitly state that you should avoid using public transportation, ridesharing and taxis. Avoid leaving the house. If you live with other people, aim to separate yourself from them as much as possible to avoid infecting them. Those who suspect they’re infected should wear a face mask when they’re around other people to cover coughs and sneezes.
For many, COVID-19 symptoms are mild, and they may be able to recover at home. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease are at the highest risk for serious illness. The CDC reports that eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years and older.
The measures being taken right now to stem the spread of the virus may seem draconian. But it’s important to remember that they are only temporary, designed to prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed as COVID-19 spreads. The steps you take to prevent virus transmission may ultimately protect some of society’s most vulnerable members.