By on July 17, 2020

You may not have noticed this, but there’s a lot of people wearing masks right now. These individuals aren’t working with drywall or sanding anything, either. You can spot them shopping, walking, or crowded around these new outdoor drinking areas located downtown that force them to huddle together while you attempt to squeeze by — coughing politely to make your intentions known.

After repeatedly Googling “What’s Going On Outside?” it was eventually revealed to your author by a helpful neighbor that there’s some kind of mystery illness nobody knows anything about. They continued explaining, but I had already stopped listening. This new information had me shocked to the core.

All I could think about was how this was going to impact Lyft drivers.

Surely the company has some kind of plan to protect its workforce and make sure they’re not riddled with blood-borne parasites or whatever. Well, we seem to be in luck. On Friday, Lyft said it will distribute around 60,000 vehicle partitions to its busiest drivers as way to protect against the coronavirus while selling customized protective shields to other drivers through the remainder of the summer. 

It’s good to see a company acting so quickly to offer aid to its employees.

Had the virus manifested months earlier, this action would make the brand look downright despicable — especially since it will be the one selling the partitions. It should also be clarified that Lyft doesn’t technically classify drivers as employees; despite having no ability of their own to determine rates, Lyft officially considers them independent contractors.

Massachusetts is actually suing the company (along with Uber) over the issue right now.

“For years Uber and Lyft have built their billion-dollar businesses on a model that exploits drivers,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a message announcing the lawsuit on social media. “Uber and Lyft set the rates. They alone set the rules. Drivers are employees.”

Healey has concluded that the ride-hailing firms are technically in violation of Massachusetts law, and have been allowed to take advantage of drivers by mislabeling them. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi rebuffed this by stating drivers are effectively running a self-made business and enjoy setting their own hours. But there are problems with these assertions. They’re not really running their own business if they’re not setting the price points — and there’s nothing stopping Uber/Lyft from continuing to let drivers set their own hours as employees.

Getting back to the partitions, Reuters reports that Lyft plans to sell them for roughly $50 at production cost and without a markup. Doing some browsing, this seems to be a typical price. However, most of the ones we’ve seen have large gaps to allow air to circulate around the cabin. Might just be better to lower the windows and hope nobody’s sick.

From Reuters:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued coronavirus guidelines in April to professional drivers and recommended the installation of a partition between a driver and passengers.

As of March 2019, Lyft had nearly 2 million drivers in the United States and Canada, where it operates. But regulators and analysts estimate the number of active drivers has dropped significantly during the pandemic, when ridership plummeted because of sweeping stay-at-home orders.

 

[Image: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock]

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30 Comments on “Lyft to Issue Partitions to Some Drivers; Company Sued Along With Uber in Massachusetts...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    I believe our society has an entirely incorrect approach to the present crisis.

    1) There have been efforts over many years to develop vaccines for other coronovirus strains, for HIV/AIDS, and many other viruses. The efforts, lavishly funded and undertaken by the world’s brightest scientists, have been unsuccessful. This fact illustrates the futility of “waiting for the vaccine.”

    2) The virus is airborne, has extended incubation, and is perfectly suited for widespread infection.

    3) The fatality rate for the virus is about .03%, on par with influenza infection.

    4) Fatalities are VERY tightly concentrated among the elderly infirm.

    5) Confinement only delays infection, and ongoing confinements are entirely unsustainable culturally and economically.

    6) Confinement delays development of herd immunity.

    7) Current public lockdown policy, which has no logical endgame, is a recipe for economic and cultural collapse.

    8) QUARANTINING the healthy is foolish and squanders vast human capital and vital production capability. Quarantine the ill and protect highest risk groups.

    9) Open society, behave prudently with the understanding the the human immune system, as always, will sustain the vast majority. Those with weak immune systems will suffer, and possibly die. Confinement and/or lockdowns will not change this.

    10) Accept reality for what it is. The virus is among us, there will be no vaccine in the forseeable future, some people will get sick, and some will die.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @R Henry – that is interesting but doesn’t work. Any country that has successfully controlled SARS-CoV-2 has done so first by a lock-down then followed by a very controlled reopening with increased testing and contact tracing. Mask use is also part of that successful plan. Protected the vulnerable requires a healthy uninfected group of caregivers. COVID-19 disease will occur until a vaccine is found but the key is to control the infection rate of SARS-CoV-2.

      “I believe our society has an entirely incorrect approach to the present crisis.”
      “Our society” I take it you mean USA? In that case, yes.

      COVID-19 typically has a 2 week incubation period. It can be transmitted before symptoms manifest or in a large enough percentage of the population, there are no symptoms.

      The only way your plan is to work is IF there is enough testing infrastructure in place to sample virtually every “healthy” individual in the USA.

      At least 1/2 of the USA population is at risk to COVID-19. Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, pulmonary and renal disease is rather common in the USA. The population is aging.

      “Some people will get sick, and some will die”

      Yes but how many?

      If the USA had done things similarly to other countries, you would have seen 50% less deaths, a pandemic under control, and reopening measures cautiously implemented with adequate sampling and contact tracing controlling localized outbreaks.

      The USA isn’t even out of the first wave let alone ready for a second wave.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        “@R Henry – that is interesting but doesn’t work”

        How do you know? It has never been tried.

      • 0 avatar
        Old_WRX

        @Lou_BC,

        Testing for CV is no panacea. The most commonly used test tests for fragments of the virus and has a false positive rate of about 30%. So test one million people who don’t have CV and you will get 300,000 false positives. If you get away from the MSM and read what actual doctors and researchers are saying, the whole testing ramp up being done is shown to be utterly useless.

        The chance of developing an effective, safe vaccine is nil. As @R Henry pointed out, they have been trying to develop coronavirus vaccines for many years with no success.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          How many doctors and researchers are saying that testing is “utterly useless”?

          Testing and tracking are key to controlling the spread of the virus. And as demonstrated, too many people are unwilling to follow voluntary measures regarding the social distancing and the wearing of masks.

          Here are just a few reputable sources that favour testing.

          http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/testing
          https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/04/02/covid-19-science-why-testing-is-so-important
          https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid19-testing-explainer-1.5540418
          https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200618/Widespread-testing-could-help-stop-the-spread-of-COVID-19.aspx
          https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/22/840526338/is-the-u-s-testing-enough-for-covid-19-as-debate-rages-on-heres-how-to-know

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “COVID-19 typically has a 2 week incubation period.”

        It “typically” has a 5 day incubation period. 97% of people that become symptomatic have them appear within 11.5 days. The 14 days guideline is more to act as a safety margin and to rein in that last 3%.

        https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/09/
        coronavirus-incubation-period-is-5-1-days-researchers-say

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @ajla – I try not to muddy the waters. 2 weeks is the quarantine time set to see if people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 and develop COVID-19.
          There are enough deniers out there who take variables like that as proof that the medical community is wrong. It is all a continuum. Disease burden/ symptomology occur over a spectrum or range.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I also don’t think “a vaccine won’t happen” and “herd immunity is the only way” are really compatible ideas. Isn’t a vaccine a type of “herd immunity”? It just is achieved without requiring an initial infection.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Your fatality rate is completely fabricated. Those who value economies over human lives always make up their data. You also have no idea of the actual fatality rate for flu; the pro-hoax argument loves to claim that the death rate for Covid is extremely low due to all those who had it but were never tested… but they ignore this fact for flu.

      Also, increasingly, data show that antibodies for Covid don’t last very long. If that’s so, then the holy grail of ‘herd immunity’ is the real hoax.

      Lou has it right; the countries that are able to open took the right steps, and now they have low infection rates and the ability to contact trace. ‘Murricans wanted Freedumb too much to fall fer that Marxist nonsense… and now we’re paying a heavy price, in both lives and economic hardship.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Ol Shel – Case fatality rates i.e. deaths compared to infections is always going to be inaccurate because not enough people are sampled. Fatalities due to COVID-19 is an easier number to collect. Hospitalizations due to COVID is the most accurate number to look at along with Inpatient deaths. One can get an overall assessment of COVID-19 disease burden by looking at historical death rates and any excess death rates outside those averages can be considered COVID-19 related.

      • 0 avatar
        Old_WRX

        @Ol Shel,

        “Those who value economies over human lives always make up their data.” If it were only as simple as that. The shutdowns will cause great damage to our economy. It is quite possible that the real answer, if you value lives above all, would have been to keep the economy running and protect those with high risk factors. The shutdowns will severely damage our economy which will result in many more deaths (and untold misery) than CV would have if handled sanely.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @oldWRX: that was the thinking in Sweden and it didn’t work. Not only has their fatality rate per capita been far greater than their neighbours, their economy has also suffered just as much.

          We are in the age of a ‘global economy’ one nation cannot ‘weather the storm’ on its own.

          And it appears that it is more efficient to implement a lockdown until the ‘curve is flattened’, and suffer a short term economic downturn, than to prolong the crisis.

          Unfortunately in the USA the pandemic is now being addressed as a political rather than a scientific/medical issue. Political exigencies have been prioritized over scientific/medical recommendations. As a result we are witnessing a ‘dumpster fire’ in the USA. The nation that should have been best able to withstand a pandemic is instead suffering among the worst per capita fatality and infection rates.

          • 0 avatar
            Old_WRX

            @Arthur Dailey,

            I’ve heard all this so many times that it just must be true. Truth is created by consensus, right?

            Now you have my permission to come back at me with some form or other of the old “just grow up.” LOL

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “The shutdowns will severely damage our economy ”

          What about the costs associated with the permanent damage to the body caused by the virus? Lung scarring for one thing. Other effects as well. Costs money for those lifetime treatments. What if some are permanently disabled? This isn’t always the nice kind of virus that leaves you the way you were once it’s gone. You get some permanent souvenirs to remind you for the rest of your life in some cases.

          https://www.vox.com/2020/5/8/21251899/coronavirus-long-term-effects-symptoms

          • 0 avatar
            Old_WRX

            @mcs,

            I guess we’ll never know which course would have been better.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @OldWRX: Truth is ascertained through the use of facts and evidence. In many instances this requires the use of scientific and statistical analysis. And the input of those with academic and/or professional expertise in specific areas.

            An opinion from someone without professional or academic credentials in the applicable field is not as valid as a peer reviewed article or the findings of someone with applicable professional or academic credentials.

            So when epidemiologists and public health officials overwhelmingly support lockdowns, mask wearing and mass testing, then we need to believe them, rather than the musings of a self-proclaimed ‘stable genius’.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think it is way too early to give up on a vaccine, especially with the entire world working on it and several companies claiming positive results and expected 2020 rollouts. I’d at least wait for those early efforts to fail before going to Plan B.

      For HIV/AIDS there isn’t a vaccine but there are now extremely effective preventatives and treatments available. So even if an early vaccine doesn’t work, I don’t think COVID-19 is going to be something where “the virus is among us” will be the only option.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I don’t believe anyone is giving up on a vaccine. Heath experts are very positive because of the massive global effort to squash SARS-CoV-2. There are already trials showing promising results.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      3): If COVID-19 has a 0.3% fatality rate, then the 639,972 deaths as of 7/24/20 would have to have come from a total of 213,302,667 cases.
      There are only 15,848,175 confirmed cases. If your fatality rate were correct, there would have to be about 13.5 times as many cases to reach that number of deaths. In other words, your estimate is way, way off, by a factor of 13 1/2.

      If you think the novel coronavirus is just a cold, kindly volunteer at an ICU for a few days. You will be doing your part to create “herd immunity” (which only exists once an effective vaccine has been developed and distributed).

  • avatar
    brn

    “Surely the company has some kind of plan to protect its workforce”

    You mean it’s [underpaid] independent contractors, that should be responsible for protecting themselves?

  • avatar
    baggins

    Is this an editorial or a news piece. Has elements of news, then editorial comment, then news….

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    I’ve been driving 47 years now, owned about 30 cars, and still haven’t owned a single automatic. I’ve even owned cars that were very unusual to be found with a manual, but either ordered them that way or just sought them out. Yeah, it’s now ancient technology, and many modern automatics are “better” transmissions by every measurable metric. I enjoy driving auto’s briefly when they’re not my car, just because it’s a different experience – but it also serves to remind me that it’s not the experience I want in my own cars. I just prefer to row my own. The 2 cars I own now are probably my last, so I’ll just row off into the sunset eventually. I’ll never begrudge anyone’s choice of an automatic, and I understand why sticks are disappearing. But I’ll “stick” to mine, thankyouverymuch.

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    @Arthur Dailey,

    “No truth is created by facts and evidence. In many instances this requires the use of scientifi and statistical analysis.”

    And, the best way for the layman to get a true picture of something of this ilk is to read many opinions of people with credentials. If the picture you are getting is too monolithic, then you haven’t dug deep enough. In a situation as nebulous as this there will be different opinions coming from different experts. Which there are. News outlets such as CNN, and, yes, the CDC should always be taken with a grain of salt (as should all sources of news). There are many other opinions and studies out there from experts in the field. They may not be reported in the MSM, but the highly politicized nature of the whole CV thing pretty much guarantees that.

    As an example: I remember reading on the weather channel that all scientists were in agreement about “global warming.” (The buzz phrase has mysteriously been changed to “climate change.”) Which immediately threw up a red flag. The odds of all scientists agreeing on something like that is zero. Which leads one to ask: Why are they making such a claim? And, certainly does not help their credibility.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Old_WRX – consensus is basically how theories become accepted as the most probable answer for a certain question or phenomenon. That does not mean once an idea becomes commonly accepted that they stop hunting for better answers an/or solutions.
      There are those who will search for outliers in the medical community because they happen to cast doubt on the main premise that they themselves doubt.
      If you have cancer are you going to follow the treatment prescribed by the majority of oncologists or one on the edges pushing chaga mushroom tea and cannabis?
      COVID-19 isn’t all that different. We are still learning about it therefore predictions surrounding mortality and spread have evolved. You have to be aware that it is called a *novel* coronavirus. *Novel* meaning new.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        @Lou_BC: I was thinking about you yesterday while doing some yard work [studying personalities is a ‘hobby’ of mine as I mismanage my own life?].

        As you say, “You have to be aware that it is called a *novel* coronavirus. *Novel* meaning new.” 1000X agree.

        I have one very specific gripe with you – I have thrown a couple of “novel” approach ideas in your direction in the context of COVID, and with just enough detail to give you traction if you were interested. But you have fairly consistently reflexively reverted to the ‘conventional/accepted wisdom’ perspective.

        Now is an excellent opportunity for “out of the box” thinking.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @ToolGuy – I’ve pondered various approaches put forth by yourself and others. In the case of COVID-19, the approach used successfully so far has been the one used in my home province of B.C. That is by your definition “conventional/accepted wisdom”. It isn’t reflexive. I’ve been a healthcare professional the bulk of my entire life. I question approaches like any good professional does. In this case, I’m good with the current approach used in B.C.
          The USA’s approach on the other hand has been poorly managed, coordinated and implemented. It has been severely damaged by politicians.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Old_WRX – consensus is basically how theories become accepted as the most probable answer for a certain question or phenomenon. That does not mean once an idea becomes commonly accepted that they stop hunting for better answers and/or solutions.
      There are those who will search for outliers in the medical community because they happen to cast doubt on the main premise that they themselves doubt.
      If you have cancer are you going to follow the treatment prescribed by the majority of oncologists or one on the edges pushing chaga mushroom tea and cannabis?
      COVID-19 isn’t all that different. We are still learning about it therefore predictions surrounding mortality and spread have evolved. You have to be aware that it is called a *novel* coronavirus. *Novel* meaning new.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @LouBC’s explanation is valid. We continue to learn. Scientific knowledge increases. Yes there may never be a 100% agreement but in instances like COVID (or climate change), where over 90% of those with applicable advanced degrees agree, and have completed and published peer reviewed studies proving their theories/findings, then it is more than likely true.

      Regardless of what we want or hope the truth to be.

      And changing the ‘name’ by which we call something does not deny its veracity.

      The problem in the USA is that a significant number of the population continue to deny science and have instead politicized these issues.

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