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Delivery Workers Put Themselves At Risk During The COVID-19 Crisis

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MATIAS J. OCNER
/
MIAMI HERALD
Yuri Kouzenkov, the director of operations for DeliverLean, delivers food to seniors in Brickell, Florida on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. DeliverLean has been hired by Miami Dade County to help provide elderly residents with free meals during the pandemic.

Nationwide shutdowns to minimize the spread of the new coronavirus have brought many things to a standstill. But one line of work that's often overlooked is busier than ever. 

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As people shelter in their homes during this health crisis, delivery workers are dashing through empty streets to meet an increased demand for their services.

They're bringing people essentials like food and medicine right to their doorstep. But even with precautions like face masks, gloves and no contact delivery, which means accepting online payments and leaving the order at the customer's door, delivery workers are putting themselves at risk.

"Yeah, it's still scary. I mean, every time that we get ready to work it's a liability that we have now," said Facundo Baso, who does deliveries on his scooter for his father's pizza shop in Coral Gables.

Delivery workers are largely an immigrant work force -- often with low pay and no health insurance, which doesn't give them the option to take sick leave or stay home during the COVID-19 crisis.

"If I had the option to stay home, of course I would stay home," said Christian Campbell, who does deliveries on his motorcycle for a coffee shop in Coral Gables. "But there's a need to work and eat. It's my only job, so it's difficult."

Recent talks from state and federal officials about reopening the country to help the economy have Campbell worried.

"It's very dangerous," he said. "There are people who aren't prepared to go back to work. I think the government should wait longer."