Local organization asking for president’s help to keep truckers safe during pandemic

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GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — For some working from home and even staying home isn’t possible. Truckers are not only essential workers, they travel every day. Their office is the cab of their truck.

A Grain Valley organization is asking for the president’s help in keeping the critical supply chain cog safe.

Lewie Pugh, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the merchandise you see in stores don’t appear by chance.

“Pretty much everything in this country, somewhere, somehow, is hauled by a truck,” Pugh said.

Truckers move food, medicine and essentials across state lines and to your stores. But Pugh said these essential workers are in desperate need of help.

“Truck drivers, of course, are out there on the front lines right now delivering and bringing us the goods that we need on a daily basis, plus the goods that we need right now during the coronavirus,” Pugh said.

He said they badly need personal protective equipment, and resources.

“If that driver, anywhere in his course of time, was around anyone who has the virus, or possibly been around the virus — he could have picked it up,” Pugh said.

“Say, a business they realize one of their employees got it, that truck driver who was there on Monday will never realize they were they were around that shipper or receiver.”

His organization reached out to President Donald Trump in a letter. Pugh said they did get a response, but no relief yet.

In a notice from the Teamsters trucking union, it said contamination is an issue where one case can send more than a dozen people into quarantine.

Pugh said this is a huge issue because many truckers are more than 1,000 miles away from home. If they get sick or need to quarantine, there’s no easy solution.

“These guys may be 1,000 miles from home,” Pugh said. “Where do we quarantine them, where do they go to get quarantined, where do they go to get help?”

He said his organization has received calls from sick truckers turned away from testing centers because they’re unable to drive through. If they do need to be quarantined, they would either need to find somewhere to do it or drive home sick.

With many states under stay-at-home orders, Pugh said it’s hard for truckers to find food or places to rest. Many restaurants are closed to walk-in customers, and rigs are unable to go through most drive-thru systems.

“With all these restaurants being closed down, if they’re allowed to walk through a drive-thru at places, they can to get fast food,” Pugh said. “But as far as getting a good meal, or a good place you can sit down and eat a decent meal — that’s another problem that they’re running into.”

He said truckers are often forgotten and hopes this time their risk takes priority.

“Thank you for what you’re doing,” Pugh said. “Thank you for being brave enough to do what you do and keep us safe.”

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