New York Uber driver dies from coronavirus two weeks after he stopped taking rides fearing infection
QUEENS, NEW YORK: A driver for Uber in New York City died on Tuesday morning, March 24, after contracting coronavirus in the first week of March. Anil Subba, a Nepalese immigrant in his 40s from Jackson Heights, passed away at Elmhurst Hospital, the New York Post reported as per the information given by his family.
The report also stated that Subba had not been not driving for more than two weeks to avoid contracting the deadly disease. He got admitted into the hospital about two weeks ago and was put on a ventilator about two days before he passed away. He was not in contact with his wife and three children, ages 22, 20 and 11, after getting hospitalized.
“We tried to phone him but nobody was allowed. The family members couldn’t talk to him,” Subba’s cousin Munindra Nembang told the Post. Nembang further said that they were allowed to contact Subba only through the voicemail.
The deceased man’s cousin, who is also an Uber driver, added that Subba stopped driving for-hire during the first week of March after he carried a sick passenger from JFK Airport to Westchester County.
“That was the last time. He got afraid and he stopped. He was the only one who was working. Because of him, his home was running. It is very hard for his family to survive now,” Nembang said while mentioning that Subba was the sole breadwinner of the family.
He also told the Post that he knew some six or seven other members of the borough’s small Nepalese community, most of them Uber drivers, who are in hospital because of COVID-19.
In the context of the current crisis, New York Taxi Workers Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai also talked about the drivers’ concern and said how closeness to passengers puts drivers at higher risk for contracting the disease, especially if they drive vehicles that have no front-seat partitions.
Desai also suggested that the Taxi and Limousine Commission should suspend app-based ride-hailing service. “If there is a clear pattern here, the companies and the city need to suspend the service and let drivers know they are already covered for unemployment [insurance] in New York state. Workers aren’t expendable. Put drivers first before profit and politics,” Desai added.
Meanwhile, in related news, a Lyft driver is not taking any chances with the pandemic as he has transformed his driving seat into a crude self-containment compartment out of plastic and tape – with a box of tissues sitting. The creativity of the man got attention when hairstylist Phil Ring traveling in his car took the video and posted it online.
“My Lyft driver created this airtight seal in his car. If anyone out there is doing Lyft or Uber for work, you may consider doing this to protect yourself and others. Just wanted to post this so you can see how one guy is helping keep himself and others safe,” Ring said on his Instagram account, where he posted the video of the scene that was viewed more than 200,000 times.
The makeshift setup generated a lot of mix reactions online with one person commenting: “Genius! I mean, you gotta still work!” While another one said, “This is not healthy for him. He should talk with a doctor to keep his health safe and stop watching tv…”