With the coronavirus outbreak in the US worsening, Lyft says it plans to expand its operations to include the delivery of food and medical supplies. The move comes as demand for the company's ride-hailing services falls off due to the pandemic. "This work helps create new opportunities for drivers, provides rides to those in need, and helps distribute essential goods," the company said on its website.
At the moment, the initiative includes three parts. To start, the company's drivers will deliver medical supplies and test kits to the elderly, people with chronic diseases and other vulnerable individuals. They will also transport food to seniors, as well as students who depend on their school for lunch. Lyft says it plans to pilot the food project first in the San Francisco Bay Area, before making it available throughout California and the rest of the country. In both instances, the company's drivers will deliver items without coming into contact with the people who they're delivering supplies to.
Lastly, the company has partnered with eight Medicaid agencies to provide non-emergency transportation to people who need help getting to their medical appointments. It says it's working with states across the country to expand access.
In addition to the above efforts, Reuters reports co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green will through to the end of June donate their salaries to help the company's drivers. They say they will also find them other temporary work opportunities.
At the start of the month, both Uber and Lyft said they would provide employees with 14 days of paid sick leave to drivers who were either infected by the coronavirus or quarantined by a public health agency. According to a tracker from The New York Times, COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has killed 266 people in the US. There are currently more than 21,000 confirmed cases across the country.