3 Updates Drivers Need to Know About the Coronavirus

It’s been a rollercoaster for rideshare drivers over the last month. From the start with our coronavirus drivers’ survey to the preliminary response from Uber, Lyft and other gig companies, information on driver compensation has slowly started to trickle out. Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur shares the latest driver updates below.  

It has been a wild ride.  I stopped driving about a month ago, mainly because I have always had a Plan B for life after rideshare.

For me, driving people who may have Covid 19 seemed too risky. If you are still driving for Uber and Lyft, I wish you nothing but good health.

This article will provide you with three updates, items that are important for all drivers to know.  The news is moving fast, but here is what we know right now.

Quick facts:

  • Gig workers/independent contractors are now eligible for up to 39 weeks of expanded unemployment insurance
  • Every person receiving unemployment insurance due to COVID-19 will also be eligible to receive $600 per week through July 31, 2020
  • If you made less than $75,000 (per person) last year, you’ll likely be eligible to receive a one-time tax rebate check of $1,200
  • Looking for work? Here are some of the best delivery companies to work for now
  • Be mindful of the 3 S’s: Sleep, Sugar, and Stress


1. $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Bill (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act) Includes Unemployment for Rideshare Drivers

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On Friday, March 27, 2020, the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill (called Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act) went into law.  The package includes unemployment insurance for independent contractors. In addition, every single American making $75,000 or under will receive a check for $1,2000 (double both the income thresholds and the amount if you’re married).

How are Uber and Lyft helping drivers navigate all of this? Uber has created an Independent Worker’s Guide to COVID-19, which will help you with the latest COVID-19 information, how to get financial support if you’re quarantined because of COVID-19 and more.

As far as Lyft, they’re keeping drivers updated on all the latest via email, app alerts, and their COVID-19 Safety website here.

Specifically, on their “What the CARES Act Means for You” page, Lyft provides additional information for ICs:

“Other drivers who are self-employed, including independent contractors, may be eligible to receive compensation through a new temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program now through December 31, 2020. Those who are unable or unavailable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency qualify for this assistance.

The program offers up to 39 weeks of benefits – with weekly benefits of at least half the average weekly benefit under regular unemployment insurance plus an additional $600 per week for up to four months.”

And finally, while Lyft Hubs may be closed right now, Lyft states they are working on distributing hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes to drivers at no charge. You’ll be alerted via your app when they are ready for pick up in your area.

Understand that right now, the situation is changing rapidly and Uber and Lyft are working on getting more specific information out to drivers as it becomes available.

Offering assistance to independent contractors is unprecedented, so while Uber and Lyft work to get drivers more info, the best thing you can do is: apply for unemployment insurance through your state unemployment agency.

In California, $450 per week is the maximum standard unemployment benefit, while New Jersey provides up to $713 per week.

The stimulus package then includes up to an additional $600 per week (for four months).  Depending on your earnings over the past year, a Californian could collect up to $1,050 per week for up to four months.

The bill also extends standard unemployment for an additional 13 weeks, which for most states will equate to a total of 39 weeks of coverage.

Now on top of that, if you filed a tax return in 2019, or 2018, and you show income on line 8b of your 2019 tax return, you will be receiving an additional $1,200 in April.

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If you have not filed your 2019 taxes yet, then the government will look at your 2018 return.

How Your Taxes Impact Your Unemployment Income

Let’s say I worked as a Lyft driver last year and earned $65,000.  My per week earnings were $1,250.

Let’s say I also filed a 2019 tax return which showed income on line 8B.

Not sure how to calculate all of this? Head over to our Uber driver tax guide!

Further, let’s say I applied for unemployment insurance this week.  Over the next two months, assuming this pandemic settles down at the end of May and I can get back to rideshare driving, I would be able to earn the following:

That would be an average of about $5K per month. That is not too bad. As we learn more about the filing process for drivers, we’ll let you know – make sure to subscribe to The Rideshare Guy newsletter to stay informed!

In addition, Lyft provides more helpful information regarding taxes for self-employed or independent contractors:

“Other drivers who are self-employed, own your own business, and file taxes with 1099s may be eligible to receive a refundable tax credit for days you were unable to earn income due to COVID-19 related illness, to comply with self-isolation or care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to coronavirus.

The tax credits allow for self-employed individuals to claim a refundable credit against their total tax liability for up to $511 per day for the days they are unable to work because of COVID-19 related issues, up to 10 ten days total.”

If this sounds like you, you’ll want to work with a tax professional to make sure you are getting the full benefit of this refundable tax credit.

2. Work Opportunities for Uber and Lyft Drivers

Now you have a choice to make.  Do you want to work, or do you want to collect unemployment?

If you are working, you can’t claim unemployment.  If you live in California, is $10K over 2 months enough to keep you going? Do you need money now and can’t wait three to four weeks for funds to flow into your bank account?

If you can’t wait, we recently updated our best delivery jobs for Uber drivers article, where we covered some of our favorite delivery companies like:

  • Uber Eats – easiest to get started with right away
  • DoorDash – typically has some of the highest payouts for couriers
  • Postmates – similar to DoorDash – sign up for both until you see which one is more profitable in your city
  • Instacart – extremely busy right now, and is forgiving any less than 5-star ratings from customers

In addition to these gig jobs, we’ve also found a few more that may be hiring in your city, including:

Papa John’s Pizza Is Hiring

People are home and they are hungry for pizza.  Google “Papa John’s Hiring” and apply.

Amazon Flex Is Hiring Everywhere

Since most people are not leaving their homes, they are ordering a tremendous number of items from Amazon.

Amazon delivery is booming right now – check out our Amazon Flex driver review.

Obviously, Amazon has been and will continue to be a growth business.  We have all become very proficient at ordering items from the comfort of our home and then having those items delivered the same day or next day.

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You can access the Amazon hiring website here.

As you can see, in addition to delivery drivers, you can also find jobs as a shopper or warehouse team member.  I clicked on Delivery Driver.

This COVID-19 pandemic has Amazon working in hyperdrive.  As a result, drivers are needed.  I looked to see if there was anything here in Sacramento for me.

Amazon has a network of delivery service partners, many of whom have built a fleet of vehicles to deliver for Amazon. This provides another source of potential jobs for drivers:

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From this second source, I found a job opportunity right here in Sacramento.  All you need to do is jump on the website and do some searching.  The ad says it all:

“Apply today to schedule your in-person interview with Amazon Delivery Service Partner.  Delivery Service Partners making on the spot job offer!”

Lyft Makes It Easier For Drivers To Drive for Amazon

This week, Lyft drivers received an email that notified us that Lyft is making it easier for us to get a job with Amazon.  All you need to do is click on the link and you will be taken to this page where you can apply.

Walmart is Hiring

Walmart is hiring up to 15,000 people in its stores and distribution centers to meet the demand of online shoppers.  The jobs are temporary, but many will lead to permanent positions.

Grocery Stores Are Hiring All Over The Country

Here are three grocery stores I found that need people to load up bags and deliver groceries to online purchasers, but depending on what grocery store chains exist in your city, there are likely even more options there.

Raley’s Has Part Time Positions Now

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The words “mass hiring” caught my eye. Groceries are being ordered online.

Raley’s is hiring people who can take a list of groceries and then walk around the store and put those items in bags and prepare them to be delivered or picked up at the store.  You won’t even need to drive anywhere for some of these positions!

Safeway Is Also Hiring Right Now

Safeway is in a similar situation.  Groceries need to be delivered.

You can access the Safeway job opportunities here.  I looked at the website and saw many driving jobs throughout the United States.

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Save Mart Is Also Hiring In California

I have had some previous business dealings with Save Mart and they are an excellent company.

Additional Companies Hiring Drivers:

  • NYC’s Taxi & Limousine Commission is hiring Uber and Lyft drives for meal delivery. Learn more here.
  • Roadie – sign up to become a parcel driver with Roadie
  • Field Nation – online jobs for technicians (mainly IT)
  • Rynly – delivery packages with Rynly (only available in Portland and Seattle right now)
  • Saucey – deliver alcohol with Saucey
  • Drizly – clearly, people need to drink. Deliver alcohol from your local liquor stores with Drizly.

Lyft is also offering a Driver Community Task Force, which seems like it will provide opportunities (work and otherwise) to Lyft drivers. Make sure to sign up for the task force!

LinkedIn also shared a great resource list of more companies hiring here:

Some industries — from shipping to online learning — are hiring to meet coronavirus-related demand. Here are some of the companies hiring right now.

3. COVID-19 Is An Opportunity For Self Care

This is a stressful time for many of us. Up until recently, most drivers had no idea how they were going to financially survive this pandemic.

The stimulus bill certainly has relieved some of our stresses and tensions. However, there is still the fear of getting sick, of family members getting sick, of this pandemic lasting for 12 months or 18 months or longer.

When will we get back to “normal?”  During times like this, it is important to take care of yourself.

One thing I have heard is “Manage the Three Ss.”

S #1.  Sleep.  It is so very important that you try to get 8 hours of good quality sleep.

Sleep is the most regenerative time of the day. Your body needs that downtime to recuperate, especially while we are being bombarded with news of this pandemic.

S #2.  Sugar.  Sugar is not great for your body.  During stressful times, in particular, avoid sugar.

Sugar is in so many foods so you really need to be observant of what you eat.  Most junk food is loaded with sugar.

In general, stick to natural foods, vegetables and drink plenty of water.

S #3. Stress.  Take the time to decompress from all the stressful news.

For example, I am taking a 90-minute walk each day to breathe some fresh air and listen to some music.  If you meditate, that is another powerful way to eliminate stress.

I also find great comfort in watching a good movie or tv series.  I recently fell in love with a show called “Better Things” on Hulu.

You can also read a book or listen to a book on Audible.  I am currently engaged with a book titled  “The Road Less Stupid” by Keith Cunningham. These are all healthy activities you can pursue to  “check out” when the news is difficult to hear.

Finally, don’t watch too much news.  Stay informed without getting obsessed.

Key Takeaways

The news is not all bad for Uber and Lyft drivers. Money is on the way.

There are job opportunities to replace lost revenue.

Now is a good time to learn to take better care of yourself.

We’re lucky to live in a society that has provided us some additional income, regardless of if we are employees or not. Be sure to continue following The Rideshare Guy for updates in the following weeks to come – we will make sure to provide you accurate information for your health, finances, and more.

Readers, what are you doing to take care of yourself during this time? Are you looking for other work opportunities, or planning on applying for unemployment insurance?

-Jay @ RSG