At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic has been ravaging the world for close to two years. Over 240 million people have caught the virus, with over four million of those people losing their lives to the illness. Because of the quick spread of COVID and the alarming complications that can arise when someone contracts it, the entire world has gone in and out of lockdowns, safety measures and restrictions as the numbers continue to change.
While many healthy people may find themselves unworried by the situation, many people with disabilities don’t have that luxury. This is especially true for people who have chronic lung diseases or autoimmune diseases that affect the way the immune system functions. If you fall into the category of a disabled driver and have to transport people with COVID-19, the risk is much higher that you may come down with the viral infection, too.
That being said, there are plenty of safety measures you can implement even while in a small and closed space, such as a vehicle, with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. So how do you protect yourself from COVID-19 while transporting someone with the infection?
How can you limit close contact in the car when transporting a person with COVID-19?
Transporting COVID-positive patients safely in a vehicle may seem to be impossible, but it can be done with the right safety measures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are guidelines you should follow to ensure you are as safe as possible while driving someone who has coronavirus.
Some of those guidelines include cleaning any commonly touched surfaces such as door handles or seatbelts. Because the virus can live on surfaces and be transmitted that way, these areas need to be disinfected not only before every new rider, but after as well. While you are cleaning these surfaces, you should also be wearing your mask and have the doors and windows open for proper ventilation. Using disposable gloves and any other personal protective equipment should also be done to avoid any transmission of the virus.
Some other guidelines that the CDC recommends include:
- Wear the proper protection: It’s not enough to simply wear a face mask when transporting someone with COVID-19 in your vehicle. This is because it is almost impossible to maintain social distance in a car, and COVID-19 can hang around in the air for hours in some cases. The proper protective equipment that should be worn includes a surgical or N95 mask along with goggles and a face shield wherever possible. This may seem like too much, but it’s vital that you keep yourself as protected as possible while driving someone with coronavirus.
- Clean all hard and non-porous surfaces of the vehicle: These surfaces include the seats, armrests, doors, windows, and any grab handles. You should do this using detergent or soap before you disinfect the area. You should also make sure that you’re using the appropriate cleaning supplies that are effective against COVID-19. Diluted bleach solutions or other types of disinfectants that are at least 70% alcohol need to be used to be effective.
- Any electronic surfaces that are in the vehicle should also be cleaned: These surfaces are often touched and need to be cleaned in the same way that other surfaces are, even if you think you’re the only one that has touched them.
- After cleaning: After you have cleaned out your vehicle thoroughly, dispose of any gloves or masks that you used while getting the job done. Wash your hands thoroughly after removing the gloves and use hand sanitizer if you are not able to wash your hands with soap and water.
The passenger who has the infection should also be wearing their face mask and protective equipment. If possible, roll down all the windows in the car while driving to limit the opportunity for the virus to linger in the enclosed space.
Transportation services for COVID patients
Patients with COVID-19 should not take public transit or other forms of transportation where they could spread the virus to others. Depending on where you live, the transportation services available may differ. To figure out how to transport someone with COVID-19 in your area, you should contact your local medical authorities.
If you or someone you know has COVID-19 and needs to go to the hospital because their symptoms have become critical, you can call an ambulance. Otherwise, a person with COVID-19 should not usually require transportation services, because they should be in isolation.