Uber Prepares to Pay U.S. Drivers Exposed to Coronavirus

Uber Technologies Inc. announced late Friday it would begin offering compensation to drivers affected by the coronavirus in the U.S.

The benefit follows similar company moves in Mexico and the U.K. and comes as the virus accelerates its spread in the U.S.

People diagnosed with Covid-19 or placed in quarantine by a public health authority qualify for up to 14 days in compensation from Uber, according to a company email seen by Bloomberg. The email also said Uber was “working to implement mechanisms to do this worldwide.”

A company spokesman declined to speculate on the possible number of cases in the U.S.

Harry Campbell, founder of driver resource therideshareguy.com, praised the move, calling it smart PR and a nice gesture.

“Fourteen days won’t cover everything, but it’s definitely better than nothing,” he said. “It’s a nice benefit to know that Uber has their back if they do get sick with this.”

An Uber spokesman confirmed the company had already compensated five quarantined but ultimately non-infected drivers in the U.K. and in Mexico. U.S. Senator Mark Warner sent letters Friday to Uber, Postmates, Lyft, Instacart, Doordash and GrubHub, urging them to offer financial benefits to their army of gig workers at possible greater exposure to the growing epidemic.

The financial support provides solace at a time fears are running high. Many workers are continuing to work despite fears of catching the virus, with 41% changing their driving strategy, according to a recent study.

These changes include reducing hours, refusing airport rides and halting driving entirely.

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