Personal Finance

Uber drivers struggle to find income amid coronavirus pandemic


A ride share driver picks up passengers at O’Hare Airport on April 10, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Earlier this month, as talk of a new virus outbreak in the U.S. revved up, Robert Richwine, an Uber driver in Columbus, Ohio, devised a game plan to try to stay on the road. After dropping off each rider, he sprayed disinfectant on “anything the passenger might have even thought about touching.” He posted signs on his gray Ford, notifying people of his precautions. —

Then that talk turned into something scarier and closer. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency and then eventually ordered residents to stay in their homes, except for essential needs, until at least April 6.

The coronavirus has already sickened more than 850 people in Columbus and killed 15. The streets of the city, where Richwine, 67, has lived most of his life, are eerily silent, he said. “It feels like right after 9/11.” 

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Richwine said he knows other Uber drivers who are still working, but for him that wasn’t an option. His wife, Sharon, who is also 67, suffers from atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that could disrupt her blood flow and send her into a stroke. (Older people and those with heart conditions are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.) “I looked at my wife,…


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