Zorro ain’t the only one wearing a mask, kids

April 6, 2020

Wendy Parker

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As of April 3, the CDC recommends wearing “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

On the same day, OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote a letter to several federal agencies, as well as President Donald Trump, pointing out the need of protective equipment for professional drivers out there “busting their butts” to “haul essential freight during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The letter was sent on behalf of the association to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services as well. It urged the POTUS and lawmakers to develop a plan to keep truck drivers safe.

Meanwhile, medical professionals on the front lines are still having difficulty obtaining an adequate amount of personal protective equipment. Volunteer groups have created thousands of homemade, reusable masks to bridge the gap as much as possible, but more masks are needed – and they’re needed now.

How do we protect the general public, trucking industry professionals and make sure the medical community has what they need?

No one really knows because we’ve never been through this before, but good old American “can-do” attitudes are certainly making headway in mask production.

OOIDA member Keith “Palerider” Lawson posted pictures of personal protective equipment he picked up at Central Hauling’s Little Rock, Ark., terminal with the caption, “It’s great to know the company you’re with cares about their drivers.”

Zorro ain’t the only one wearing a mask, kids.
OOIDA member Keith “Palerider” Lawson recently posted this picture showing the personal protective equipment he picked up at the Central Hauling Little Rock, Ark.

Lawson, a leased owner-operator with the Central Hauling side of Cal Ark, referred Land Line to Will Stevens, Cal Ark’s human resources director and one of the people responsible for making sure the drivers they’re responsible for have basic personal protective equipment.

“Right now we’re committed to making our drivers as safe as possible,” Stevens said.

In doing so, Cal Ark explored the possibilities of having their own masks made. They began the endeavor before mask mandates became the norm. “In all honesty, we started talking to the folks at Arkansas Logo Logic on the 20th of March,” Stevens said. “We had our first 100 masks by the 26th, and they were gone in 24 hours.”

Those first 100 masks paved the way for much larger orders, keeping Arkansas Logo Logic open and busy during a time when the local small business would have likely had to close and lay off employees. Quickly converting from making T-shirts to making masks kept the shop essential and proved there’s more than one way to provide personal protective equipment to drivers.

Another resource Mr. Stevens is thankful for are the homemade fabric masks being made by volunteers, church groups and sewing coalitions. “We have had an overwhelming response here locally,” Stevens said.

Will’s favorite part of the homemade masks are notes some of the volunteers tuck into their bags. He asked to share this handwritten message included in one of the masks, “Thank you for keeping our country moving forward. May the Lord bless you and keep you during these times of trouble.”

Amen.

If you need a mask or are having a hard time finding one, there are numerous sewing coalitions and volunteer groups available on Facebook. Check your local churches and public support agencies.

If you’re handy with a sewing machine and would like to make your own mask to wear or donate, follow this link to an easy pattern that has a pocket for disposable filters and is washable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has several simple DIY fabric face-covering ideas (some that require no sewing) at this link.

If you know of any trucking groups that are already making masks and you need to get the word out, contact Wendy Parker at wendy_parker@landlinemag.com.

Pilot Flying J
Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.