COVID-19 isn’t funny, and neither is its resurgence, but sometimes you need to look on the lighter side.
It’s sort of like that scene in The Godfather III when Al Pacino’s character, Michael Corleone, bemoans the latest gangland war and how it affects him:
That’s what it’s coming down to as students from kindergarten to college crowd into the classrooms this year just as two new variants raise their heads.
So far, there have been no lockdowns or suggestions to shelter in place. Government bodies have not issued new COVID protocols for 2023, but people are concerned about becoming infected. They question their daily patterns and examine how they can avoid exposure.
How will the COVID-19 resurgence in 2023 affect rideshare drivers and the broader population of gig drivers? No one knows, but there are some things you can do as a rideshare driver to protect yourself from infection. There are also ways to ensure a steady income if these variants cause a more significant problem as they spread through the population.
In this article, Gridwise examines these topics:
- Is COVID resurging in 2023?
- What COVID protocols can drivers implement in 2023?
- Rideshare drivers need to be cautious.
Is COVID-19 resurging in 2023?
An online Newsweek article from August 29 reports that two new COVID-19 variants have recently emerged, known as EG.5 and BA.2.86. The World Health Organization (WHO) pronounced EG.5 as a “variant of interest” but judged it poses little risk to public health. According to Global News, researchers in Denmark first discovered the BA.2.86 variant, part of the Omicron variant, in July. WHO is concerned that the BA.2.86 variant is more likely to infect those who have acquired a previous immunity, whether from vaccinations or a prior infection. Newsweek reports that hospitals, colleges, and at least one private corporation have re-instituted mask requirements.
CBS News reported that researchers identified another variant, XBB.1.5, which was dominant earlier this year and is part of the COVID-19 resurgence in 2023. Immunologists developed the upcoming fall booster shots to combat XBB.1.5. They are hopeful that this booster will also provide immunity to BA.2.86. In the meantime, the Newsweek article said there were 15,000 hospital admissions in the US for COVID-19 in the third week of August, a far cry from 2020 numbers, but still a problem.
So far, none of these variants carry the lethality of the first days of the pandemic in March 2020. There is an element of unpredictability in COVID-19, though, and no one wants to test it.
What COVID protocols can drivers implement in 2023?
Rideshare drivers can expect challenges in the final months of 2023 as we move into the busy holiday season alongside a COVID-19 resurgence. Passengers will be concerned about infection, and drivers should be concerned, too. The rideshare and food delivery companies haven’t decreed policy decisions regarding this resurgence, but there are new COVID protocols drivers can implement in 2023.
Carry and use facemasks
Most riders will see it as a sign of reassurance that you, as a driver, care. Carry additional facemasks for your passengers, although you should not require their use until and unless the rideshare companies start to require them.
Make hand sanitizer available
Keep a large container for yourself and use it, and make sure passengers see you using it. Have smaller ones in the back seat for passengers. Wipe off the containers regularly so that they are clean and presentable.
Follow up with disinfectant wipes
Wipe down your car’s back seat, including the door panels, after each passenger. This takes a minute, but the next passenger who enters your car will appreciate the smell of disinfectant. And you can protect yourself in the process.
Drive with the windows down
The best hindrance to pathogens is airflow that moves them out of an enclosed space, such as your car. Roll down the windows between rides and keep the air moving in your vehicle. Ask passengers if they mind an open window.
If the COVID-19 resurgence in 2023 reaches a critical mass (let’s hope not), it will compel some drivers to give up rideshare for safer employment. Fewer drivers on the road translate to longer pick-up wait times, and passengers become stressed. COVID-19 is also a frequent lightning rod for people with divergent opinions. Put on a smile and prepare to deal with grumpy passengers.
Stock up on COVID-19 tests
If you’re one of those populations (teachers, seniors, etc.) with access to free or low-cost tests, take advantage and stock up. Use those tests if you feel sick. According to the CBS News article, early analysis suggests that current tests should reveal infections of the BA.2.86 variant. You can check the FDA’s website in future weeks and months to see if the FDA has listed test brands and batches that show reduced performance in detecting the new strains.
Make the front seat off-limits
Lyft or Uber haven’t yet set restrictions prohibiting passengers from the front seat, but it is a good policy to follow. Politely explain that in light of the COVID-19 resurgence in 2023, you feel more comfortable if passengers sit in the back. This is for their protection as much as yours.
This is still one of the best defenses. If you still need the latest booster, check with your healthcare provider or local health department to find out where you can get vaccinated. Make sure you have all the vaccinations and boosters, too.
Drink lots of fluids and get enough sleep
Don’t forget to stay healthy yourself. Drink lots of fluids, especially those abundant in vitamin C, such as citrus juices. Get enough sleep. Getting rundown reduces your body’s ability to fight off potential infections.
One driver recalls that as COVID-19 descended on the US in March 2020, a passenger who was a nurse admonished him, “Make sure to eat your vegetables.”
Ensure your health insurance is up-to-date
Check your health insurance and make sure all payments are up-to-date. If you get health insurance through a spouse or partner, check with them.
Watch your stress level
Rideshare driving is stressful enough between the anxiety of earning enough, the kinds of people you have in your car, and the challenge of navigating on congested streets and freeways. Concern about COVID-19 resurgence in 2023 takes it to a whole new level. Having near accidents, forgetfulness, and road rage are all signs that you’re approaching dangerous stress levels. Check out a Gridwise blog post from last year, How to Maintain Mental Health as a Rideshare or Delivery Driver. If you find yourself suffering from stress, take a break from rideshare driving.
Work food delivery and other gig driving jobs
Speaking of taking a break from rideshare driving, the COVID-19 resurgence in 2023 is a good argument for why you should have more than a passing familiarity with the other rideshare services. Driving Lyft or Uber puts you in the same car, breathing the same air, of as many as 20 to 30 people each shift. If you’re concerned about this exposure, you can change to food delivery with DoorDash, Uber Eats, or any of the other services. The food delivery business took off during the initial pandemic. Package delivery with services such as Roadie or Amazon Flex, or grocery delivery with Instacart or Shipt are options, too.
Revisit previous Gridwise blog posts about driving during COVID-19
Gridwise has been an authoritative source for rideshare drivers since the early days of the pandemic. With the prospect of a COVID-19 resurgence in 2023, Gridwise will continue to be a source of information. Go to the Gridwise website, select Blog, and enter COVID-19 into the search bar. Helpful articles include
- How Rideshare and Delivery Drivers Can Prepare for a COVID-19 Surge
- 4 Ways Drivers Can Shield Themselves from COVID-19
- Some Rideshare Drivers Are Making $50+ in Tips per Day Amid COVID-19. We’re Going to Show You How
Check out the Gridwise website to see what benefits are available
Gridwise is a source of invaluable benefits to drivers. Visit the Gridwise website benefits page to see what might pertain to you. Services include telemedicine, alternative medicine, critical illness insurance, and much more.
Rideshare drivers need to be cautious
Continue to follow Gridwise and other news sources to monitor the COVID-19 resurgence in 2023. Watch your interactions with passengers and others during the next few months. Plenty of alternative streams of gig driving income are available. You don’t want to take chances with your health.
And be careful out there.