While the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have huge impacts on our health, it is also affecting our livelihood. We know it’s hard for everyone both emotionally and financially. Every sector is affected but we want to make sure all drivers are in the know and get a guide to resources should they need assistance.

How to Apply for Unemployment Compensation

IDG pushed for emergency relief for ride-hail drivers and gig workers and the federal #CARES Act passed and was signed into law March 27. This law provides expanded unemployment compensation, including for 1099 workers and workers who are partially unemployed. We urge you to apply for compensation for lost earnings due to the pandemic. Learn how to apply in New York State here.

How to Apply for Financial Assistance From App Companies

IDG pushed for the app companies to provide financial assistance to drivers who are told by a licensed medical professional to stay home and self-isolate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The app companies have different policies about eligibility and required documentation. Learn how to apply here.

If you are told by a licensed medical professional to stay home and self-isolate, Uber, Lyft and Via have said they will pay you for up to 14 days.

How to Consult With a Doctor

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, coughing and a sore throat. If you have these symptoms, call 311 to see a doctor in New York City. If it is an emergency, call 911 immediately. You will receive treatment regardless of your ability to pay or immigration status.

New York State app-based and black car drivers have access to a free telemedicine benefit through the Black Car Fund. You and your immediate family can consult with a doctor via phone or video chat for free. Activate your Benefits by calling Drivers Benefits at 833-814-8590 from 8:00am to 8:00pm, or activate them online here: https://driversbenefits.org/activate-now/.

Drivers Benefits can help you sign up for free or low-cost healthcare as well.

Drivers Well-Being is Our Top Priority

The IDG has been reaching out to federal, city, state, local government, app companies and other organizations to gather leads and advocate for a quick relief for drivers. We spoke to Uber and they finally agreed to freeze drivers’ pro status. In this dire moment of uncertainty and hardship, the last thing drivers have to worry about shouldn’t be how to keep their priority access to the app. Uber also lifted the lockout. And Lyft followed suit.

We are in contact with the TLC. They assured us they are working to find the best way to provide relief to everyone impacted. They are thinking about everyone in or connected to the industry. It is not going to be easy or fast but it’s good to know they are working to help drivers.

If you do drive, stay safe with the following tips:

  • Keep windows open
  • Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch your face.
  • Try to avoid touching passengers or the things they touch, like luggage. They will probably understand if you ask them to load bags in the car.
  • Get a commercial spray cleaner and clean inside and outside door handles and other hard surfaces.

Wear a Mask

There is new guidance from New York City and the CDC to wear masks whenever you are not in your home. Since Uber, Lyft, Via and the Taxi and Limousine Commission have not provided these, you can wear a scarf or make your own mask.

Homemade masks are not as effective as surgical masks so if you are driving customers in your vehicle, consider wearing two masks. Studies have shown that fabric folded four times instead of just two times is more effective at protecting you and wearing two masks is one way to do that.

The CDC has posted a few ways to make your own mask here.

The CDC also posted a video tutorial here.

Please be safe and stay tuned. We are tirelessly working to make sure drivers are taken care of. Should you need any info not listed above, please feel free to contact us here.

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Article by Ryan Price

Ryan Price is Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists, which represents and advocates for more than 60,000 app-based drivers in New York City. We’re Uber, Lyft, Juno, Via workers united for a fair industry.

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