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Cheyenne Truck Driver: COVID-19 reaction varies nationally

Cheyenne, Wyoming (AP)-While much of Wyoming’s experience during a pandemic was shaped by state or county-level reactions, truck drivers in the region have been exposed to national reaction patchwork.

Located at the intersection of Interstate 25 and 80, Cheyenne is a popular stop for truck drivers carrying goods across the United States. Truck drivers who stop by the capital of Wyoming can go to any state in the country. Along with that, you have the opportunity to observe the big differences in the region.

Perhaps, in recent memory, no period of time has revealed the differences between these regions over the past nine months. Since March, the United States has been working on conflicting views on how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The situation was very different from state to state,” said Hamilton Bird, a longtime resident of Cheyenne, who drove a semi-truck until mid-summer last year when he stopped pursuing the event business full-time. Told.

“There was a very tough place in April where masks for the entire state were mandated. We can see the same for enterprises. For example, when they appear at Love’s Travel Stop in Wyoming, they feel like business as usual. Then it will appear in Love’s in California, and it feels like another world. “

“It was one of the really interesting observations I had. I just saw how diced we were all,” Bird said. He also said that, from his point of view, truck stops such as airports and bus stops are places where people from all over the country, including virus hotspots, gather.

“These were hotspots or relatively volatile areas,” Bird said. “I was nervous when I jumped into a truck stop that didn’t care about the world.”

Vicente Lopez, who owns True Grace Farm and Truck in Cheyenne and has been driving trucks since 1987, added that maintaining the virus threat is not particularly difficult.

However, in some areas, he encountered regulations that have severely impacted his life on the road, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.

“I was hoping to get a shower and everything when I woke up in the morning, and they stopped their shower,” Lopez recalled about the truck stop where he stayed in Louisiana. .. “I couldn’t take a shower the next morning. It was tricky.”

Sheila Foertsch, managing director of the Wyoming Trucking Association, said many truck drivers encountered similar problems during the pandemic.

“Early, coast-to-coast drivers struggled to find a place to park and rest, and to find a place to eat. Many states closed restaurants and it Also included a truck stop to eat, “Foertsch said. “But the truck stop has to be pushed back and open to provide food to the workers who need it, even if the capacity has changed.”

One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic on the trucking industry is the type of goods that truckers are transporting, Foertsch said.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone involved in the transportation of medicines and groceries was very busy, but if they weren’t carrying such things, the closure caused a slight depression in the business. It’s possible, “she said. Please note that Wyoming has never closed the restaurant completely, so it has less impact.

Rather, the decline in travel during pandemics, the collapse of coal, and the slump in the energy industry caused by the Saudi-Russian oil price war have most affected the interests of Wyoming truck drivers.

“You have a truck that transports equipment for both oil and gas, as well as coal mines. There is transportation of fuel that goes into mines and rigs,” Foertsch said. “All kinds of energy downturns are reflected in the trucking industry.”

Bouey Bears, a wellington-based truck driver who drives Cheyenne frequently, said about 80% of his business was devoted to the transportation of pre-pandemic oil and gas industry products. ..

“When COVID-19 came out, oil prices fell sharply. The pandemic not only closed our society, but the entire industry. Oil and gas seemed to stop overnight. “. As a result, several employees had to be dismissed.

“We had to scramble and try to find different ways to diversify our company,” he said, shifting to transporting goods such as corn and wheat, as well as consumer goods sold by Amazon. I said I did. The increase in telecommuting also affected the products that Bears was shipping during the pandemic.

“Apart from commodities and household items, many people are moving from big cities to small states and cities to save money or make their homes smaller,” he said. “We pulled a lot of moving trailers.”

Bears hopes his business will recover as the pandemic subsides, but he doesn’t know when that will happen.

Meanwhile, driving across the country in 2020 showed him the same reality that Bird and Lopez noticed on the route. Concerns about viruses vary dramatically depending on where you stop.

“In the midst of a pandemic, you can climb up to Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota and sit in a restaurant to dine,” Bears said. “When I hit Colorado and the southwest, it seems that a line was drawn in the sand. Everything was completely shut down. I couldn’t even get fuel without a mask.”

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Cheyenne Truck Driver: COVID-19 reaction varies nationally

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