By Chris Spear
President & CEO
American Trucking Associations
March 18, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic invokes fear. That’s understandable. We’re confronted with a novel virus that represents a serious threat to public health.
We’re also faced with uncertainty. Uncertainty gives rise to misinformation, and it’s in these environments that rumors run rampant. Hysteria, more so than the underlying challenge, is often what fuels public fear.
It reminds me of 9/11. In the immediate wake of that horrific attack on our country, the things we didn’t know outweighed the things we did. Those “unknowns” gave room to falsehoods, and rumors spread—like an epidemic.
As I watch this current crisis unfold, once again I’m hearing a similar refrain from chattering classes. I see a rush to draw conclusions before facts avail themselves. I see a desire to speculate and imagine worst-case scenarios. I see a reflexive urge to cast blame and score cheap political points.
What ensues is panic, triggering runs on the grocery store, for example. We don’t know how long it will take to defeat this pandemic, or at what ultimate cost. But here’s what I do know, having spoken to the men and women of our industry and our partners throughout the logistics network:
There is plenty of food, water, medicine, fuel and, yes, toilet paper, in our supply chain. The empty shelves temporarily seen are simply the result of surge demand as Americans rush to stock up. They’ve been quickly restocked as carriers and retailers adjust to the whims of the market.
Truckers don’t deal in fear. They have a job to get done. They get up, hop in the cab, and take to the road. Truckers always deliver, even when there’s a natural disaster or expanding crisis.
That’s because America depends on them. Families and businesses need food, fuel and life’s essentials. Hospitals need medicine and critical, life-saving supplies. We all depend on truckers for the staples that enable our basic survival.
Over the past 20 years, America has stood strong through harrowing challenges: 9/11, the financial crisis and great recession, and two protracted wars overseas. Now, when we look back, we do so with a greater perspective that strengthens our resolve and empowers us to tackle the unforeseen challenges ahead. We can, thanks to the noble sacrifice of countless heroes who put themselves on the line for the greater good of our country.
Like those crises of past, this coronavirus pandemic too shall pass. After a period of disruption to our familiar routines, life will return to normal. We will return to restaurants, go on vacations, commute to our places of work and enjoy sporting events. And our country will be stronger for it.
We will do so thanks to many patriots who answer the call of duty: the medical professional tending to the sick, the scientist working around the clock on a cure, and the American trucker on the front lines ensuring everyone else has the essentials at hand to remain healthy, nourished and productive.
I don’t anticipate this road will be easy, but I have no doubt we will surpass it. Let facts, not rumors, guide the way. Pull together, rather than against one another. Put politics aside in the interest of our common good.
Above all, keep calm—and keep on trucking.