Truckers keep American supply chains running, despite challenges from COVID-19

DEFOREST, Wis. (WMTV)-- Truckers are traveling cross-country as “essential employees” to keep American supply chains running.

Carmen Anderson is a truck driver delivering canned goods to a grocery store in Minnesota.

Carmen Anderson, originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, stopped in DeForest on her way to a grocery store in Minnesota.

With canned beans loaded in the back, Anderson said she works 11-hour days, which is typical.

“If we stop running within three days, America would shut down,” she said. “You think the stores are empty now. If we stop completely, they [stores] would be very bare.”

More than her work load, Anderson said the health crisis has affected the atmosphere outside.

“You used to be able to sit down and have a wonderful meal,” she said, at the rest stop by Pine Cone Restaurant. “Now you have to have everything to-go. We’re isolated already, but we’re even more isolated with the coronavirus.”

In some states, rest stops are closed. Anderson said she could not find parking, a place to shower or an area to let out her two dogs that travel with her.

Rest stops are open, however, in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association president Neal Kedzie said the Department of Transportation has worked hard to help truckers.

“This is a very critical moment for our country in regard to the response to this crisis,” Kedzie said. “The truck drivers are at the frontline. They are the ones carrying the burden, the responsibility. They are, again, the unsung heroes who will make sure that not only are we servicing those in need but also keeping our economy afloat.”

Anderson suggested that people can help truckers by being patient on the roads and at grocery stores, while waiting for empty shelves to restock.