Uber drivers express concerns about transporting COVID-positive students

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CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — A man has been transporting COVID-positive U of I students to isolation dorms and hotels, but he is worried it is putting himself and others at risk of contracting the virus.

The health department does not recommend people who have COVID-19 take public transportation. So students have been calling Ubers to give them a ride instead.

“It was a guarantee that, ‘Yes, I am transporting someone that has tested positive with COVID,'” said the anonymous driver. This has happened several times for this C-U driver, especially since classes started at the U of I and more students have tested positive for coronavirus.

Even though he and his passengers wear masks and he sanitizes the car, the thought of being so close to someone with COVID-19 is disconcerting. “I didn’t want to be exposed unnecessarily. I also knew that other people were going to get into my vehicle and I worried about those individuals possibly contracting COVID from their previous passenger.”

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District said there are precautions that are required when taking these trips:

  • Driver & passengers should be wearing masks at all times
  • Windows should be rolled down
  • Trips should be kept under 15 minutes

CUPHD said this removes the risk of exposure. “This has been utilized for a long time,” said Awais Vaid, CUPHD. “We have not seen anybody who has provided transportation and has had to be quarantined for exposure or have turned out to be a positive case.”

Ubers have been charged with taking students to different locations for isolation and quarantine. But one driver is frustrated that the U of I does not provide another transportation option for COVID-positive students. “I would really appreciate [if] this university would arrange for university transport using University vehicles. ” He believes Uber drivers should be given the chance to opt out of accepting these rides. “Some of the drivers will say, ‘I would rather not have that individual in my vehicle,” and deny them, you know, turn the ride down and let someone else pick them up.”

WCIA requested a response from the University asking if they considered using other transportation methods for students who have coronavirus. We are still waiting for a reply.

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