The FMCSA is working on a plan to administer COVID-19 testing to truck drivers, the agency’s acting administrator said at its Medical Review Board meeting on Tuesday, April 28.
In response to a question from the Medical Review Board’s Dr. Brian Morris, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration acting Administrator Jim Mullen said the agency is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security on a plan to test truck drivers at high-volume rest areas across the nation.
“We are looking at high-volume rest areas to see how we can accomplish that, Mullen said. “(We realize) they are nomadic and could be carriers. We hope to roll that out in the near future.”
In addition, Mullen said the agencies are working toward getting gloves and sanitation products to truck drivers.
FMCSA has already been working with FEMA and DHS to distribute free masks to truckers across the country. On Tuesday, Mullen said the distribution process had begun and that the agency was increasing the number of masks it was distributing from 800,000 to 1 million. A list of distribution locations can be found here.
The progress toward getting truckers tests and personal protective equipment follows OOIDA’s efforts for the past month.
On April 3, OOIDA sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking for “urgent and immediate action” to protect truck drivers as they haul essential freight during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every day they are exposed to COVID-19, because of the critical service they provide for all of us,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer wrote. “They run in and out of the hot zones and, without question, they are exposed. They don’t have access to personal protective equipment or any practical means to know when they may be falling ill or any practical solution if they need treatment or self-isolation.”
In response, it was announced on April 22 that FMCSA, FEMA, and DHS was establishing a distribution network to get masks to truck drivers.
“This has been a long time coming, but it’s finally going to happen,” Doug Morris, OOIDA’s director of safety and security, said on April 22. “The distribution of this (personal protective equipment) is a direct response to OOIDA’s letter to the president asking for PPE for truck drivers. They are continuing to work on other pressing needs, such as hand sanitizer and additional testing.”
Medical Review Board
FMCSA’s Medical Review Board held meetings remotely on April 27 and April 28. The April 28 portion of the meeting was open to the public.
According to the agenda, the first day focused on reviewing the test questions used to determine eligibility of healthcare professionals for inclusion in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. In addition to Mullen’s remarks, the second day was scheduled to consider changes to the seizure standard for commercial motor vehicle drivers and to finalize recommended updates to the Medical Examiner’s Handbook.
Mullen opened the meeting by outlining moves the agency has made during the COVID-19 pandemic, including loosening hours-of-service regulations for truckers hauling essential freight.
“Our mission has never been more important than it is today,” Mullen said. “While we are issuing some waivers, safety is always at the forefront of what we do.”
Mullen also took time to thank truck drivers for their sacrifices.
“The work they are doing to make sure we receive all of the supplies we use on a daily basis is greatly appreciated,” he said.
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