Coronavirus News: NYC cab drivers cite risks to health, business amid COVID-19 outbreak

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Yellow cab and for-hire drivers are some of the first to interact with domestic and international travelers, so naturally the fears over coronavirus is putting their health and business at risk.

Driver Firoz Ahamad said he is very nervous about his business.

"Last two hours, I don't have passenger," he said. "Very slow our business. I'm waiting here 30 minutes, driving around 1.5 hours. No passengers. Don't know how we're going to survive.

Eyewitness News spoke to other drivers and they say business is down as well.

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Drivers pick up every slice of life in New York, including patients not sick enough for an ambulance.

"I don't want a passenger to get close to me, especially to have somebody sitting next to me," one driver said.

Given their front line exposure, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is now encouraging drivers to clean their vehicles at least daily.

"Pay special attention to disinfecting surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as door handles, arm rests, and seatbelts," the TLC said in a statement.

Another driver complains he can't find enough hand sanitizers. In fact, a customer gave him a small travel bottle, which he uses every time he touches money.

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"Yes, we are nervous and we are looking for the hand sanitizer," the driver said. "It is out of stock."

Ride shares and car services are also feeling the corona crunch, with Uber releasing a statement:

"We're also working to provide free hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes for drivers and team members in our Hubs."

Passengers say they are now walking more, but when they do need a cab, they take extra precautions.

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"I try not to touch anything, screens, door handles," passenger Stephanie Duffy said. "Anything like that. Being super careful."

She also said she usually uses her sleeve or making sure not to touch anything even if she is wearing gloves.

RELATED INFORMATION:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

New Yorkers can call the State hotline at 1-888-364-3065, where experts from the Department of Health can answer questions regarding the novel coronavirus.

New York State information about coronavirus

New York City information about coronavirus

John Hopkins' coronavirus tracking dashboard

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