Uber is scaling up its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, promising 10 million free rides and food deliveries for health workers, seniors and others affected by the outbreak.
Uber already offers free transportation and food delivery to NHS workers battling the virus in the UK. Now the company is looking to expand this offering worldwide. Uber says “any organization, healthcare provider, or government entity is eligible,” although it is still working with many stakeholders. A spokesperson said the company is already talking to local food banks about free travel and deliveries.
Uber is “working to distribute these meals and trips at scale in the coming months and tailor the offering to the most pressing local needs,” a spokesperson said. “And we are covering the costs associated with delivering food, meals, and travel: including free Eats meals, the cost of traveling or delivering food from a food bank, payments to drivers and couriers, etc.”
Hospitals, clinics, senior centers, and others interested in enrolling their workers for free rides or food deliveries would need to email Uber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The announcement comes when Uber has seen a precipitous drop in passenger numbers as a result of the pandemic. The company’s gross reserves in Seattle, a city affected by the new coronavirus, fell by 60 to 70 percent, and Uber is assuming a similar decline in other major cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
The company is providing financial assistance to drivers who have contracted COVID-19 or who have suspended their accounts or have been ordered by quarantine by public health officials, although some drivers have had trouble requesting help from the transportation company.
Because people are told to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel, many Uber drivers struggle to earn money. The $ 2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last week by President Trump offers unemployment benefits, such as unemployment insurance, to previously ineligible groups, such as workers.