5 truck drivers share what it's like to haul critical supplies during a pandemic

Working from home isn't an option for many retail workers across the country who risk exposure to Covid-19. CNN asked them to share their stories with us. Here's what they told us. Watch the latest videos on Covid-19. 

Posted: Mar 26, 2020 9:21 AM
Updated: Mar 27, 2020 4:00 PM


The US is counting on truck drivers to help ensure shelves remain stocked as Americans load up on things like toilet paper and canned goods amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN Business spoke with several truck drivers about their recent experiences. Many said they're working under trying circumstances that include longer hours, crowded truck stops, difficulties finding food, as well as health and safety concerns. Still, they said they're energized by the challenge and thankful for the gratitude they are receiving from their fellow Americans.

Here's what they had to say:

(The following has been edited for clarity)

Ralph Garcia

Based out of: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Drives for: ABF Freight

The 41 years I've driven, I've never seen the truck traffic, it's incredible. Places at night, trying to get parked. The other day I didn't want to stop because it was so packed. People were lined up on the off ramp, sleeping right there. They couldn't even get into the truck stop.

It's getting hard to even get a sandwich in the past week, with states closing down restaurants. I thought that was insanity. They're doing takeout, at least they have that.

There's a restaurant that I always call ahead to so they'll have it ready. This time, they asked me if I could sit out in my truck. They brought it right to my truck. That was a first.

The other day I went to Burger King in Kingman, Arizona. My truck doesn't fit through the drive-through so I stood in the drive-through. I made my order walking between the cars and they looked at me like I was some kind of crazy guy.

The lady said, 'This is a drive-up.' And I said, 'Yeah, but I can't drive my semi.' She just kind of chuckled, and said 'We don't usually do this.' I said 'You're going to have to start, because we got to eat.' They didn't give me a hard time.

Courtney Emery

Based out of: Crossville Tennessee

Drives for: A FedEx contractor

I'm a little bit nervous [that I've been exposed].

It's definitely scary. When I go home off the road, I live with my grandparents. I'm afraid to go home and transport it to them.

Truckers aren't health care workers and we're not anybody special. We just have to keep working because, what else are we going to do right now? And people need their toilet paper.

Dee Sova

Based out of: Greenville Missouri

Drives for: Prime, Inc.

We've been a little bit more obsessive about hand cleaning and sanitizer. Because you just don't know. It's business as usual, with the acknowledgment we have to be super, super careful about hygiene.

It's already using hand sanitizer before we walk into the truck stop. Or we have gloves on. We're not touching surfaces right now. I'm trying not to touch buttons. When we're at the fuel island [to fill up] we're using a pen versus actually touching that surface.

People are kinder now. My husband, who I drive with, took $70 into a Walmart Thursday to get what he needed. When he went up to the counter to ring everything up, it came to $78. This lady behind him gave him extra [money] to pay for what he needed to get. I realized that was human kindness at work on our behalf as drivers. She didn't have to do that. He could've came out to the truck, got the ATM card and covered everything, but she didn't waste any hesitation in giving him that extra money.

Jorge Chavez

Based out of: Houston, Texas

Drives for: Jetco Delivery

I just dropped a full trailer loaded with milk. As a father, I got kids at home. I would feel bad if my family doesn't have whatever they need. Right now I feel proud, I feel good because somehow we're helping the community to make sure that they get whatever they need in their homes.

Honestly, I don't feel tired. I just feel excited. What's happening now is impacting every family across the nation. I got friends that are driving from state to state. Everyone is doing their part.

Allen Boyd

Based out of: Bedford, Pennsylvania

Drives for: Walmart

You always pay attention to who is following you. With all the stuff that's happening, now we really have to pay attention.

I talked to a driver last week who had somebody come up alongside him and blow on the horn and asked him to roll down his window. They wanted to know if he had toilet paper, as he's driving down the road.

You don't know how desperate people are. People do different things that they would never do when they need something really bad.

Most of the time, we don't have a clue what's in our trucks. Even if we do know, we don't tell. You don't know what that person is going to do, how that person's going to react. In these times, we have to step up our game.

In 39 years, I don't recall ever being thanked for just being a truck driver before. I appreciate being thanked for a change. I hope that it's not just during this time and when it goes away, we're back to just being in everybody's way again.

We make sure everybody has what they need everyday, and do it as safely as possible and in a timely manner.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314147

Reported Deaths: 7244
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21587258
Hinds20339415
Harrison17899309
Rankin13599278
Jackson13443246
Madison10092217
Lee9971174
Jones8373163
Forrest7677152
Lauderdale7187241
Lowndes6391146
Lamar622986
Lafayette6187118
Washington5332134
Bolivar4800132
Oktibbeha462598
Panola4581107
Pearl River4511146
Marshall4436103
Warren4387121
Pontotoc420172
Monroe4109133
Union410376
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3962110
Hancock379286
Leflore3495125
Sunflower335990
Tate333384
Pike3321105
Scott315773
Alcorn312868
Yazoo311469
Itawamba300177
Copiah296865
Coahoma295279
Simpson294988
Tippah288168
Adams284682
Prentiss279760
Marion269080
Leake267873
Wayne262641
Grenada261487
Covington259381
George248048
Newton246461
Winston227081
Tishomingo226767
Jasper221048
Attala214273
Chickasaw207757
Holmes188873
Clay185254
Stone182633
Tallahatchie178641
Clarke177980
Calhoun170632
Yalobusha164238
Smith162334
Walthall133945
Greene130533
Lawrence128524
Montgomery126842
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123042
Carroll121828
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107033
Tunica105326
Claiborne102430
Benton99525
Humphreys96633
Kemper95728
Franklin83623
Quitman80716
Choctaw76318
Wilkinson67231
Jefferson65628
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 531751

Reported Deaths: 10997
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson766021528
Mobile41061805
Madison34820505
Tuscaloosa25801453
Montgomery24348589
Shelby23465249
Baldwin21170309
Lee15887171
Calhoun14515316
Morgan14315279
Etowah13849353
Marshall12239223
Houston10575281
Elmore10062205
Limestone9980151
Cullman9697194
St. Clair9671243
Lauderdale9437241
DeKalb8843187
Talladega8231176
Walker7244277
Autauga6928108
Jackson6815112
Blount6680137
Colbert6307134
Coffee5521119
Dale4845111
Russell442538
Chilton4302112
Franklin426382
Covington4131118
Tallapoosa4026152
Escambia393677
Chambers3575123
Dallas3555152
Clarke351061
Marion3126101
Pike311077
Lawrence300498
Winston274473
Bibb261264
Geneva251077
Marengo249564
Pickens234561
Barbour231456
Hale223177
Butler216469
Fayette212562
Henry188944
Cherokee185245
Randolph180642
Monroe177840
Washington167639
Macon159750
Clay156857
Crenshaw152757
Cleburne149141
Lamar142735
Lowndes138953
Wilcox127130
Bullock122841
Conecuh110529
Coosa107928
Perry107826
Sumter104732
Greene92534
Choctaw60724
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