COVID-19 impacting truckers

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) As most are being told to stay home during COVID-19 truckers remain on the front lines, bringing supplies, food and much more to communities day in and day out.

According to the Nebraska Trucking Association at least half of the communities in Nebraska get everything they need by truck. No planes, rails or other modes just semis rolling in and out of town with everything they need.

Truckers are used to adapting to a lot.

“We’re right in the middle of that supply chain that is so vital,” said Tonn Ostergard the president and CEO of Crete Carrier.

A pandemic puts that adaptability to the test.

“Rushing to the front lines, if you will, to deliver those goods and sometimes in some rather challenging circumstances,” said Grisham.

Governor Pete Ricketts has suspended the weight limit on trucks traveling through Nebraska but truckers are running into problems as they try to enter other states with different rules.

“Some states, however, did not do it that way. They said you can add 5,000 pounds or can add 7,500 pounds, which causes those trucks that either originate or end in those states to make changes,” said Kent Grisham the president and CEO of the Nebraska Trucking Association. “They have to balance those loads differently and it makes them choose their routes a little differently too.”

Much of the social aspect of trucking comes at truck stops. Many remain open for essentials like showers and laundry but meals are harder to come by.

“If you see a truck pull into a Wendy’s or a McDonald's or any other fast food restaurant he can’t drive up to the drive through window,” said Grisham. “Many of those facilities have closed their doors and they don’t allow walk-ups so do the drive -thru for a trucker.”

Both men say that morale remains pretty high among truckers across Nebraska but that doing our part will make their jobs a little bit easier.

“They do feel they are filling a role in helping the country and helping people and I think they take a lot of pride in that,” said Ostergard.