Along with all the medical personnel working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is another group of heroes — the estimated 3.5 million men and women behind the wheel of a truck.
The army of big rig drivers, fanned out across the highways of America, are keeping grocery store shelves stocked around the clock during an unprecedented and scary time.
One of those drivers, Jesse Paez, hauls milk for a living.
“I know all of us truck drivers are putting ourselves in harm’s way, but we have to,” Paez told Inside Edition. “It’s our jobs.”
He’s considered an essential worker, but his family worries that he’s risking his health by not staying home.
“They do ask me why I go out there,” Paez said. “I just explain to them it’s very necessary to keep the product flowing.”
Another driver, Russ Simpson, has been working on the road for 34 years and said he has never faced a greater challenge.
“We struggle to find places to eat, places to take showers,” Simpson told Inside Edition. “We have to still go do our jobs and we run the risk of bringing it back to our families and it is definitely on our minds.”
Meanwhile, companies have been ramping up safety measures to ensure drivers stay healthy on the road.
Simpson said that many companies won’t let drivers into the warehouses anymore.
“No handshakes, no knuckle bumps when you see your buddies out there,” Paez said. He also wears gloves while he’s driving because he shares his rig.
Driver Dawn De La Rosa, who is considered “high-risk” as a diabetic, is also taking extra precautions.
“I use gloves when I fuel and I use a lot of hand sanitizer,” De La Rosa told Inside Edition.
The drivers are an absolutely crucial link in the supply chain as they continue delivering products the public needs.
“We have your back America,” Simpson. “The trucking industry has your back.”