THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) OUTBREAK OF 2020
One thing no business expected in 2020 or planned on was the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), which as of Thursday, March 26th, 2020, 1:13 P.M. E.T., the coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 489,500 people, and killed at least 21,975 people in at least 171 countries. The New York Times has created a live Coronavirus map to track the global outbreak, which can be seen here.
The number of known coronavirus cases in the United States continues to grow quickly as well. As of Thursday, March 26th, 2020, 1:13 P.M. E.T., the number of known cases of the coronavirus in the United States exceeded 75,000 cases of coronavirus confirmed by lab tests as testing expanded and the virus spread. There are at least 75,178 people across all 50 states, plus Washington D.C., and three U.S. territories, that have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the New York Times database. In addition, at least 1,069 patients with the virus have died. The New York Times has created a Coronavirus map to track the reported cases in the United States, which can be seen here. As testing kits become more available, the number of positive cases confirmed grows as well.
As the United States grapples with the rapid spread of COVID-19 that has the health care system at a tipping point, many states have begun implementing stay-at-home orders for its residents. Despite the White House advising all Americans to practice social distancing, the number of coronavirus cases in the US continues to rise. So governors across the nation are taking stronger action by issuing stay-at-home orders in their states. By Wednesday, March 25th, when all 12 current state orders take effect, 126,800,466 people, or 39% of the US population, will be officially urged to stay home. The following states have implemented stay-at-home orders: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. Under these orders, comes various rules with what residents can and cannot do. Taking a walk, riding a bike and being out in nature for exercise is allowed, however, but people should stay at least 6 feet away from others. Moreover, all nonessential businesses are to close and restaurants are only to offer take-out, delivery or drive-thru. With so many restrictions, businesses are forced to rapidly adapt their business model during these tough times. So it leaves the question, how are businesses adapting themselves and how are they affected during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
THE SHIPPING AND DELIVERY INDUSTRY DURING COVID-19
How is the Shipping and Delivery Industry Affected by COVID-19?
Within the transportation industry, the shipping and delivery industry has been harshly affected. The coronavirus outbreak is hitting both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach extremely hard. “First, we have the trade war, which was severely affecting our volumes,” said Phillip Sanfield, spokesperson for the Port of LA. “Now with that comes the coronavirus. We are now looking at a 25% volume decline in February of this year versus February of 2019.”
This is a massive economic generator, as they are the two biggest ports in the western hemisphere. With both ports combined, the San Pedro Bay Port Complex is the ninth biggest port in the world. According to Weston Labar, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association, “40% of all of the goods flowing in and out of this country come through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.” Labar also stated that over 18,000 truckers service the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which is an unprecedented amount in the country. According to Sanfield, over 100,000 people work on the waterfront. One in nine jobs in Southern California is associated with the ports in some way. “That’s about one million jobs when you look at directly and indirectly related,” Sanfield said. “That’s a major impact.”
In late February, Shippers Transport Express alerted 145 drivers who work at the port of Los Angeles that they would be reducing hours beginning February 28, because of the decreased volumes of cargo moving through the port at the time. Ron Herrera, the director of the Teamsters Union Port Division of the Western Region, told TIME on March 13 that roughly 30% of those drivers have been allowed to keep driving. He said the decreased hours are driven by the low volume of cargo coming from Asia. ABC 7 reported that Phillip Sanfield, a spokesperson for the Port of LA, said that they saw a roughly 25% decline in volume in February 2020 compared to February 2019.
A spokesperson for Shippers Transport Express told TIME in an email on March 13, “We have in good faith worked to alert our workers to the reduced volume situation facing our industry as a result of the [coronavirus].”
“We’ve informed [drivers] that we will be providing hours as volume arrives and we have more work. Hopefully, volume returns to normal shortly and we will have volume and hours for all our drivers. This will be done on a seniority basis, as hours materialize, which is the Teamster’s process,” he continued.
One of those workers is 35-year-old Wendy Cruz, who has driven for Shippers Transport Express for four years and told TIME on March 13th that she’s “definitely” worried about job security going forward. “We don’t know what’s going to happen,” she explained, “And I recently just purchased a home.” Herrera told TIME on March 13th that the Teamsters Union anticipates more layoffs because of low manufacturing rates in China. “I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom of this yet,” he says. As NBC News reports, some economists say the coronavirus could have a bigger effect on U.S.-China trade than the Trump-era trade war did.
Tips on How People in the Transportation Industry Can Protect Themselves
Do you work in the transportation industry? Need ways to protect yourself during the pandemic? Want some ideas on how you can still work and generate revenue while making adjustments to your policy to save money when business is down? American Business Insurance Services, Inc. has plenty of ideas to help you.
- Advertise frequent cleaning and disinfecting of cars
- Advertise precautions taken by drivers
- Explore other ways drivers can generate revenue using their vehicles
- Food delivery
- Package delivery
- Taking elderly to and from necessary doctors appointments
- Taking people to and from hospitals
- Taking elderly or people in urban areas to where public transportation and even Uber and Lyft shut down to grocery stores and pharmacies, etc.
Important Information for Drivers and Delivery People
If you’re planning on continuing to have your drivers work during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s important that they follow the practices listed below.
- Cleaning supplies for your car
- Drivers should take precautions when delivering any sort of package or goods. It’s important for drivers and everyone else to stay safe and healthy. Therefore, using disinfectants will help keep you and your car clean. Although supplies are very limited, a lot of companies are providing drivers with cleaning supplies or they’re partnering with manufacturers and distributors to source as much as possible.
- “Leave at Door” Delivery
- Delivery workers should follow a ‘leave at door’ delivery plan. Most delivery services are now offering customers the option to use delivery notes to communicate how they’d like their orders delivered. They may include a note like “Please leave my order at the door” or “ring my doorbell and leave in the lobby.” These options are typically found in the app of the service under ‘customer note’ once you arrive at their location.
- Supporting public health authorities
- It’s also important to pay attention to your health. Continuously check your temperature and be extra careful when delivering. If you do feel ill or have a fever, it’s important to see a doctor or seek medical advice, and to take time off of work. Practice social distancing and self-isolation to protect both yourself and others.
THE FOOD BUSINESS INDUSTRY AND DELIVERY DURING COVID-19
How Food Businesses Nationwide are Handling Coronavirus
Since the first case of coronavirus in the U.S. was officially confirmed last month, restaurants and food businesses around the country have been affected in various ways. As the virus continues to spread, many restaurants have been forced to close their doors and only allow for take-out and deliveries. As food companies navigate a changing delivery landscape due to the coronavirus outbreak, they’ve been responding with tweaks to make customers feel safer. As people continue social distancing in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak, many restaurants, and fast-food chains have switched to a “to-go only” model. More and more people are turning to delivery so they don’t have to go to stores. Those who are used to simply grabbing their box of pizza or bag of takeout may see some changes in the coming days and weeks to combat the spread of the COVID-19. Every company will be handling things a bit differently, but most are following a ‘contactless delivery’ and/or ‘tamper-proof’ plan.
To stay afloat during these times, restaurant businesses and delivery services have begun implementing ‘contactless delivery,’ to further prevent spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) between delivery drivers and customers. Customers and drivers alike have expressed concerns about the increased risk of infection from contact with each other. Reinvented menus, lowered prices, fire sales, and the good old telephone are enlisted in the fight to survive the coronavirus crisis. More delivery companies, such as Grub, UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart, and Seamless, are offering contactless delivery.
On March 6th, Postmates announced that they’d be introducing Dropoff Options which gives their customers the ability to specify how they’d like to receive deliveries. Customers can choose to meet their Postmate at the door, as they have before, meet curbside, or go non-contact and have deliveries left at the door. Moreover, the grocery delivery service Instacart added the “Leave at My Door Delivery” option for contactless delivery on March 6th as well. Furthermore, Doordash customers can text a photo of where they’d like their food to be left while Grubhub and Seamless customers have been encouraged to contact drivers directly with delivery instructions.
‘Contactless delivery’ is a new term that has rippled through the restaurant business since the virus outbreak. The concept is quite simple. The kitchen prepares food that is then boxed up and sent out to an address where a gloved messenger quietly deposits it at the door. The hungry customer and the person making the delivery keep a safe distance between them, abiding by the social distancing rules instated by the U.S. government. It’s not the kind of service with a smile that the hospitality industry prides itself on. But for thousands of restaurants across the country, ordered to close their dining rooms to slow the spread of the coronavirus, contactless delivery may be their only chance to stay open and avoid wholesale layoffs. From corner diners to world-class restaurants, operations have shifted their focus on delivery and pickup orders.
For restaurants, contactless delivery and contactless curbside pickup, are components of a new hygiene protocol that has been adopted alongside old routines, on the fly and despite advice from health departments that can be unclear, contradictory, or nonexistent. Kitchens that are accustomed to worrying about the temperature of the walk-in refrigerator now check all employees for fevers. Gloves, once scorned by serious cooks, are suddenly a necessity. To say the least, the restaurant and delivery business has changed quickly and rapidly in response to the virus.
Tamper-Proof or Tamper-Evident Delivery
Some companies like Chipotle have gone even further, offering a “new, tamper-evident packaging seal to help ensure food is untouched during delivery.” This usually looks like a special seal or sticker and is meant to give customers some peace of mind that nothing has gotten in—or out—since their food was dispatched.
How Does This Impact Delivery Workers?
It’s no secret that many of these policies were put in place because of increased demand for delivery following news of the coronavirus outbreak. Gig workers for food delivery and ride-hailing apps are bracing for the spread of coronavirus. This is a great way for drivers looking for extra income while taxi and traditional transportation are down. But because their jobs require on-demand service to dozens of strangers every day — and don’t provide health insurance or other benefits — contractor workers are nervous about how an outbreak could impact them and put them at risk. While some of these options can protect drivers in addition to customers (for example, drivers who don’t come to your door will decrease their risk of coming into contact with someone who could be sick, too), many drivers are understandably still concerned about working during the coronavirus outbreak, and some have stopped working altogether.
Many delivery companies have issued guidelines for workers during the outbreak, as Business Insider pointed out, and many of those same workers have taken additional precautions to keep themselves safe. Drivers and delivery workers for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash told Business Insider they’re scouring their cars with bleach and cutting back on hours — and that they’re unsure what they’ll do if the outbreak gets worse. Even so, if you do opt for delivery during the outbreak, consider using non-contact services, especially if you or someone you’ve come in contact with has been ill. Practice good hygiene, especially hand-washing, be kind, and as always, tip well!
Short-Term Policies for Restaurants Offering Delivery During COVID-19
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, the impact businesses are facing is unprecedented with never before seen restrictions on daily life. With prevention and containment efforts well underway, restaurants are being hit hard by governmental authorities restricting access to their business and only allowing takeout and delivery at this time. Faced with this new challenge many insureds are not prepared to offer delivery options but are working hard to adapt their business.
Our agency has access to a new program for HNO geared toward restaurant delivery. It offers a new specialized product to cover restaurants now offering a delivery option to its customers. This program is written by an A.M. Best rated “A” X carrier and can accommodate a wide range of classes that have been affected by COVID-19.
Product highlights include:
- Monoline coverage
- 3 or 6-month policy
- In-house authority for quick turnaround
- Non-auditable policy
- Limit options of $300K, $500K, $1M CSL
- Deductible $2,500
- Offering short term policies starting at $1,500
- MVR screening service provided
- Symbols 8 & 9 commercial auto liability
- No restrictive warranties
- Available in all states except MI
- Drivers list required
- Location schedule if more than one location
Insurance for Delivery Businesses During COVID-19
First off, to ease your mind a bit, the FDA’s current position is that “there is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19.” Furthermore, they went on to say that there is “no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.” As always, as long as the food is prepared safely, there isn’t a huge risk. Essentially, your major risk of dining within a restaurant is touching a table, counter, or other surfaces that someone who is contagious may have touched. So ordering takeout and delivery is definitely a safer option that dining in. Because Delivery Businesses have become so important during this outbreak, it’s important for employers to get insurance for delivery businesses.
At American Business Insurance Services, Inc. our number one priority is to keep our employees and customers safe, happy, and healthy. With that being said, we’ve taken several measures to help ensure our customers are taken care of during this time. Here are some of the efforts we as an agency are taking to help offset the financial crisis:
- Fleets can delete vehicles and leave only 1 on the policy (or just the amount on they need operating right now). If all vehicles are parked, we recommend they keep 1 on to keep the policy active – then add rest when they are ready.
- To save money, fleet owners can temporarily surrender their medallion to the operating city/state and drop limits to the state minimum while the vehicle is sitting.
- If an insured is going out of business (either temporarily or permanently) – they will most likely approve a pro-rata cancellation (no penalty for canceling early)
- Payment extensions/special arrangements
- Remove drivers that are being surcharged
- Some carriers are reducing premiums temporarily
We have proposed a number of items to insurance companies that should provide relief. We created this petition on change.org to get public auto/transportation added to the “essential services” funding package that the gov is putting together: http://chng.it/mRFCfHgVng.
To stay up to date, be sure to join our mailing list here. Once we have final approval – we will send an email to update you. For now, we want to let you know we are here to help. If you have previously deleted a vehicle or canceled a policy and need return premium expedited – let us know and we will do what we can to support you. We are experiencing heavy call volume, so we want to encourage you to email us with questions and use our portal to process policy changes.