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For Truckers, Early Pandemic Was Defined By Uncertainty And Chaos – Virus Update For Mar. 26


The early days of the pandemic were challenging for truck drivers. As other workers were told to stay home, truckers kept going, delivering food, clothing and cleaning supplies for stores and hospitals throughout the country. On the road for days or weeks at a time, many were fearful of bringing the virus back to their families, and the temporary closures of rest stops left them uncertain whether they’d find a safe place to use the bathroom or sleep.

Meanwhile, priority access for the vaccine never came, and the hundreds of thousands of truckers of Punjabi Sikh descent—who control as much as 40 percent of California’s trucking industry, according to the North American Punjabi Trucking Association—feel left behind by public health agencies that haven’t provided them with up-to-date public health information in their native language of Punjabi.


This week’s 2-part COVID update shares the experiences of truckers early on in the pandemic, as well as some specific concerns from Punjabi Sikh truckers. Listen to the audio for a feature story from Kerry Klein as well as a follow-up interview featuring excerpts of discussions with truck owner-operators Sunny Grewal and Jaspreet Singha of Fresno and trucker Lovepreet Singh of Bakersfield.


Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties (note that some numbers may have changed between the interview and publication):


As of March 25:

As of 1 week previous, March 18:

As of 4 weeks previous, February 25:

You can always find up-to-date information for your county here.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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