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For the most part, grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential places of business have managed to keep most items on their shelves. The things we all need, of course, don’t just show up. Almost without exception, everything we buy was delivered in a truck.

They’re big, not always getting out of the fast lane as quickly as we might like. It takes them a while to get up to speed and they don’t stop on a dime. But, 18-wheelers and the men and women who drive them, just keep going and going and going.

David Dubose drives his rig through all 48 continental states.

“Just take it day to day, I stay in my truck, stay away from people as much as possible,” he said of working through the coronavirus pandemic. “Stay six feet away from them, and if there’s a crowd somewhere, I wait till the crowd leaves.”

Most of these people live in their trucks. They drive, they sleep, they mostly eat in their trucks, too. But these days they’re being extra careful.

“I’m pretty concerned because I do have a compromised immune system and I’m also caring for an 80-something (year old) mother at home,” said local driver James Mitchell.

The United States economy depends on trucks to deliver nearly 70% of all freight transported annually in the country. It’s estimated that the trucking industry moves $671 billion-worth of manufactured and retail goods every year. Kevin Helms drives out of Memphis, Tennessee, and he might have the cleanest hands and truck out there.

“Every time I touch something, it’s just like I wash my hands when I went in, I’m gonna hand sanitize when I get back in the truck, I wipe my steering wheel down, I have alcohol spray, I actually made some alcohol spray on my own,” Helms said. “I took some 99% alcohol and mixed it with some water. I also have Clorox spray…what else I got? I got everything.”

Truckers still talk to each other on radios and they enjoy the camaraderie at the truck stops, where they stop on a regular basis. But, Mitchell said that’s even changed.

“Offering greetings at a distance, and trying to keep the contact to a minimum,” he said is the new level of interaction he shares with his fellow truckers.

“See, we’re not at home, we’re out here, you know, we’re exposed to the elements,” Helms said. “Once you’re exposed, you have to take extra precaution. Being a person at home, you clean your household and you don’t really worry about germs. But we’re out here exposed to everything in the elements as well as other people, so we have to go overboard.”

So, while most of us are working or quarantined at home, the nation’s truck drivers are still out on the highway delivering the things we need, sort of quarantined in their Kenworths, Freightliners and Macks. But for now, the things that we need – food, medicine, clothing – it’s still moving on down the highway thanks to our nation’s truckers.

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