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April 16, 2020 2:30 PM, EDT

Partnership Formed to Get Masks, Hand Sanitizer to Drivers

driver wearing maskA fuel delivery truck driver wears a face mask as he delivers gasoline at night in Los Angeles. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

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A coalition of trucking industry groups recently distributed 4,000 free face masks to small trucking firms whose drivers are delivering goods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to do something to help these smaller trucking companies,” said Elisabeth Barna, executive vice president for industry affairs at American Trucking Associations, in an interview with Transport Topics. “The smaller carriers have been calling us, and they’re in need of masks. All of these carriers are doing a great job.”

The masks are part of a larger shipment of 50,000 units procured by ATA. The remaining 46,000 masks are being sold to trucking companies in packages of 100 at cost, which is $3.50 per unit, plus shipping. Due to extraordinarily high demand, another 50,000 masks were ordered April 15.

“These are critical supplies, and more drivers are wearing and needing masks,” said Barna. “We know a lot of companies are scrambling to get personal protective equipment to their drivers. This will help. We’ve had a lot of people ordering them, from 200 to 10,000.”

The KN95 face masks were distributed by the ATA Litigation Center, the American Transportation Research Institute, Trucking Moves America Forward and the Trucking Cares Foundation.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, KN95 masks are very similar in performance to the more well-known N95 masks. Differences include a variation in the maximum pressure the masks can withstand as a person inhales and exhales.

ATA Vice President for Safety Policy Dan Horvath told TT the available masks will help drivers operate in the growing list of states that require people to wear face coverings. On April 15, New York and Maryland were the latest to require people to wear some type of mask or face shield while in public.

“A lot of these state regulations that are coming into place, or county jurisdictions, are requiring face coverings,” Horvath said. “While these masks are not a foolproof way to keep the driver from getting sick, or infecting someone else, they are at least complying with the new rules coming up concerning face coverings.”

Meanwhile, a similar team effort is underway to distribute hundreds of gallons of custom-made hand sanitizer to drivers.

Through a partnership among ATA, Protective Insurance and custom distillery Hotel Tango of Indianapolis, 550 gallons of hand sanitizer are being produced and distributed in 55-gallon drums to truck stops and trucking companies.

Hotel Tango is one of the countless businesses forced to close because of the pandemic. Beginning in late March, it shifted its distillery effort to making hand sanitizer. Hotel Tango made the product, Protective Insurance paid for it, and ATA is taking the lead on distribution.

Hotel Tango sanitizer

Hand sanitizer by Hotel Tango Distillery

“We are distributing the barrels across different areas, so all truck drivers — not just ATA members — can get sanitizer,” Barna said. “The barrels have a pump on them, and drivers can bring their own bottles and refill them.”

The sanitizer will be available sometime after April 21. Distribution details are being finalized.

“There are a lot of distilleries that are doing this,” Barna added. “We’re working with the Distilled Spirits [Council of the United States] to see if we can get them out regionally.”

A hub for COVID-19 information of ATA’s website has a list of other distilleries that are producing hand sanitizer.

Hotel Tango chief sales officer Nick Ladig said his company is producing about 600 gallons of hand sanitizer a week.

“It was important for us to ensure that our business — which isn’t a necessity in the daily routine — could provide something for those that don’t have an option but to keep things going and moving, like the trucking and medical industry,” Ladig told TT. “They are truly essential businesses. We felt it was a duty to convert our production facility over and help with the supply. There’s a lot of stuff being moved across the country right now — they’re on the front lines.”

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