Coronavirus scare forces event haulers to adjust on the fly

March 13, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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Reaction to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has led to the cancellation of sporting events, concerts, and other large gatherings all over the nation.

Truck drivers who haul loads for those events are having to adjust on the fly.

Steve Mesh, an OOIDA senior member from Chelsea, Vt., said he started hauling general freight after the band he was hauling for postponed its tour.

“I’m hauling freight now,” Mesh said. “I still have to feed the kids. People still need to eat.”

According to Newsweek as of the morning of Friday, March 13, there had been about 1,600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, leading to 41 deaths. Worldwide, there have been about 128,000 people infected and about 4,700 deaths.

The sports world has suffered major disruptions as the NBA, MLB, NCAA, NHL, and PGA have all canceled or postponed events because of the outbreak. Concerts and other large events have been halted as many cities across the nation have created restrictions on large public gatherings. New York, for instance, placed restrictions on gatherings of 500 people or more.

Mesh said the impact of these events being disrupted goes far beyond the trucking industry.

“You’re talking about the production crew and all of the people that work for the band and the venue,” he said. “It all affects all of the businesses around the venue. The bars and restaurants are being affected by it.”

Mesh, who has been a truck driver since 1986, said he hasn’t experienced anything like this in the industry since the days following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Sept. 11 had a bigger impact, but it was short term,” he said. “Once everyone got their heads wrapped around it, things started to return to normal.”

Other coronavirus issues

In addition to event haulers, many truckers have reported changes in check-in procedures at some shippers and receivers because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials with the Mid-America Trucking Show announced on March 12 that it was canceling its 2020 show that had been scheduled for later this month. On March 11, organizers of the Truck World show in Canada said it was postponing until June.

“How long is all of this going to last? My personal opinions don’t really matter,” Mesh said. “If everyone is panicking about something that I don’t think they should be panicking over, I still have bills to pay and kids to feed. I’m going to ride this out as long as I can and then react accordingly. That’s kind of the way I’m looking at it.”

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.